By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Kampala, Uganda: Stakeholders in Agriculture on Monday analyzed findings of the Value Chain Study in the 8 commodities that was done from Nabuin Zardi and Mukono Zardi in Central region funded by Caritas Uganda and Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform.
Stakeholders included a team from Caritas Uganda and Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Principal farmers and others.
The 8 Value chain understudy included Maize, Cassava, Groundnuts, Livestock (beef) in Nabuin Zardi then Beans, Coffee, Banana, and sweet potatoes in Mukono Zardi
Dr. Gabriel Elepu who spearhead Value Chain Study in the 8 commodities from Nabuin Zardi and Mukono in Central regions uncovered a number issues that included but not limited to lack of awareness of government programs, pests and diseases, perishability, theft, covid 19 and need to further have interventions on how to have a number of youth and women integrated in the value chains.
He stated that there is need to create awareness amongst farmers, traders and other players in agriculture in order to benefit from government programs, trainings and re-organization of farming, groups and cooperative such that they can produce better yields.
He also encouraged that farmers should linked to market such that they can sell at better prices and training them to add value to their crops and emulating the existing models like the farmer ownership models as seen in Eastern Uganda.
Hellen Kasujja the Executive Director of Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform (UFCVP) stated that there is need for collaboration amongst stakeholders arguing that there is no value chain that will grow if this is not affected. ‘The fact that standards must be developed by users, consumers and the people who are going to sell the product, then there is need to serious collaboration’.
“If you have farmers that have tried to certify and failed, do we just abandon them or refer them the entity that is supposed to approve. It is very obvious that we need to talk to each other”. She quoted.
“UNBS! If somebody fails, can you refer them to the competent authority that is going to help them improve because we don’t want to leave anyone behind and this requires to work and talk to each other even in limited resources”. She added.
She committed that as a platform, they are going to ensure that key recommendations are taken forward but also interrogate further the other barriers or enablers that could around specifically value chains.
Hon. Racheal Mogoola, a member of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture stated that there is need to critical education on mindset change amongst farmers because they lack information regarding government programs and other initiatives and therefore everyone decides to act their way.
She also cited need for resumption of cooperatives to empower and harness stable prices for farmers and other linkages.
She added, there is need for silos, waive tax on inputs, introduce price stabilization fund and need to keep indigenous crops.
During his remarks, Fr. Francis Ndamira, the National Director for Caritas Uganda cited lack of willingness amongst farmers and other players in entire value chain. He added having concerted is the only way they can ensure quality assurance in the agricultural value chain.
He gave an example of how the idea of Centenary Bank has now grown to the most desired one saying that it was because of unceasing innovations, efforts, brilliant idea development all aimed at upholding it to what is seen today.
He called upon fellow stakeholders and players directly involved in the agriculture value chain to build synergies if they are to attain the image of the sector they desire.
Stakeholders resolved that there is need to engage and lobby for space of Civil Society Organizations on different committees that develop standards for exchange of ideas as well involving farmers in the entire process.
They sought for more recruitment of extension workers as at the moment, the ratio of extension workers to farmers is 1: 1,800 yet the recommended one is 1:500 or 1,000, Increasing monitoring and evaluation, quality assurance especially on inputs, speed up price regulation.
These also tasked Ministry of agriculture to publicize the strategy of the value chain as well as the new one to ably inform players in the sector, how they may approach key issues with urgency.