Ugandan farmers start to negotiate cross-border trade deals
04 August 2016
As Farm Africa’s new FoodTrade project officially launches in Uganda, the scheme is already starting to have an impact on the lives of smallholder farmers in Katine sub-County, with three export contracts currently under negotiation.
With funding from the UK government, Farm Africa is working with FoodTrade ESA, VECO East Africa and Rural Development Initiatives to drive up incomes for 70,000 smallholder maize, rice and beans farmers in Uganda and Tanzania by helping them to reduce post-harvest losses and access lucrative export markets within eastern Africa for their surplus crops.
For smallholder farmers in Katine, the new scheme offers hope for their businesses. As the harvest season starts, they hope that their crops will fetch better prices by enabling them to deal directly with buyers through their local farming cooperatives. The scheme also offers access to regional warehouses and aggregation centres, so that farmers’ crops will be stored safely and they won’t be under such pressure to sell quickly.
Ruth, a 63-year-old farmer and grandmother living in Olel village, is confident that new trade agreements will give her better prices and a better bargaining position.
“I am very excited because the middle men will be eliminated… The middle men have been cheating us with their measurements and we had no option but to sell to them. When you are constrained with school fees, you have no choice but to sell produce at their price and in bits hoping for better prices with time. But instead you can end up selling for even lower prices than before because we don’t have good storage facilities and the crops can easily go bad.
“This will give me an opportunity to educate my own children who are now at higher institutions of learning – and my grandchildren as well. I have two sons who are doing clinical and teaching courses respectively and it’s only through farming that I have managed to educate them up to that level.”
With farmers like Ruth sure of the market for their crops and able to build up strong links to private sector grain traders, they’ll also be incentivised to grow higher and better quality yields, boosting local prosperity and improving food security in the region as a whole.
Rachel Beckett, Farm Africa’s country representative in Uganda, welcomed the launch of the project, saying: “Thanks to this initiative, smallholder farmers are already negotiating the contracts they need to generate increased revenues, and these strong cross-border trade links will help to build long-term prosperity in the Teso sub-region.”