The World Food Programme (WFP) partnered with the Ugandan government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) to set up a Shs215 million grain store in Kigumba sub-county, Kiryandongo district.
The cutting-edge facility has a capacity of 300 metric tons and is the second constructed by the government through NAADS.
The first is in Mutunda sub-county. Kiryandongo is one of the leading maize growing districts in the country and the facility, officials say, will help address identified gaps in food storage capacity, post-harvest losses eradication, value addition and collective marketing systems, besides improving access to agro-inputs in selected parts of the country.
“Through these stores small-hold farming communities are able to access formal markets through group bulking and marketing. The intervention is in line with government initiative to reduce pots-harvest losses and improve on the quality of grain produced in Uganda,” NAADS said in a statement.
According to NAADS Executive Director Dr. Samuel Mugasi, the government through NAADS provided the funding for the establishment of the store and capacity building for the farmers while WFP implemented the construction of the community store through procurement of the contracts and supervision.
The director noted that Uganda is currently producing close to 5 million metric tons of maize annually, however, there are still gaps in storage capacity of this maize with the current storage facilities accommodating only 800,000 metric tons.
The government has so far constructed 12 modern grain facilities in 11 districts of Hoima, Masindi, Adjumani, Kyegegwa, Mubende, Kyenjojo, Kiboga, Kibaale, Nakaseke, Napak and Kiryandongo with plans to construct more in maize growing districts, he said.
Members of Kiigya United Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited the beneficiaries of the grain store in Kigumba sub-county appreciated Government and WFP for the support, saying it will help to eliminate the middleman in maize trade.
A member of the cooperative Bigirwa Wilson said farmers have suffered in the hands of middlemen who have been buying their maize cheaply.
“When Kenya closed the border and banned maize from Uganda, prices of maize dropped to shs.300 per kilogram with some farmers in villages getting as low as Shs250 because we had nowhere to store it and keep it for a long time. However, with the store given to us, we shall be able have good quality maize and negotiate for better prices as a cooperative,” explained Bigirwa
The chairperson of the cooperative Tom Bamanya said the farmers still need more support especially in the area of water for production given the climate change which has affected the farming seasons across the country.
The grain store was given to the farmers together with grain handling equipment that included; Maize shellers, Cleaning screens, moisture meters and 2 sampling sticks.
WFP pledged to continue supporting the farmers in providing tailored trainings and capacity building in a number of fields namely; organizational/group management, stores management, post-harvest handling / zero food loss, financial literacy and records management, nutrition, gender and market linkages for sustainability of the farmers’ organizations and their new infrastructure.