Construction of farmer association produce bulking stores
For years, farmers had experienced a multitude of constraints associated with lack of good storage facilities and inadequate post harvest handling knowledge. The quality of produce was compromised due to infestation by vermin in the small storage spaces at their homes, lack of tarpaulins for drying and inability to sort and grade harvest before storage. In 2016, EADEN with support from Caritas Denmark supported two Farmer Associations to construct Produce Bulking Stores. Out of the 9 Farmer Associations, priority was given to those that could swiftly co-fund the construction process in terms of purchasing land and mobilizing local materials like bricks, sand, stones and unskilled labour. Khabutoola Integrated Farmers Association (KIFA) in Manafwa district and Nawandala Integrated Farmers Association (NIFA) in Iganga district met the requirements and were therefore considered to benefit from the pilot project. Construction commenced in July and ended in December 2016 with technical oversight from District Civil Engineers in the respective districts. Some of the expectations from the operation of the stores include; increased production, readily available market, higher prices and increased household income, reduction in post-harvest losses, attracting new members to the Associations, increased food security in the community and employment opportunities for the members.
“We had lost interest in farming because much as we produced in bulk, there was no good storage facility for our produce and collective marketing was not assured” -Rose, Vice Chairperson, KIFA
Handover of the stores
The handover events of both stores attracted high level dignitaries at Sub County, District and National Level. Some of the notable personalities in attendance at the commissioning of the KIFA store in Manafwa included the Sub County Chief, Community Development Officer, Production Officer, Commercial Officer, representatives from the District NGO forum among others. The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) who was meant to be the Guest of Honor was well represented by his Deputy, Ms. Kakai Maumbe. With a few remarks, the LC I Chairperson officially opened the event. In between speeches, members of the KIFA expressed their happiness through music and dance. In Iganga, amidst jubilation from the crowds, the Minister of State for Cooperatives commissioned the NIFA store. He was flanked by the Area Member of Parliament, District Local Council V Chairperson and several other leaders.
Comments about the stores from Beneficiaries
“We have been farming on a very small scale but we are now going to produce more because we are assured of proper storage and market”, Rose Wekesa, KIFA member.
“I call upon my fellow farmers that since we have a store, we should bulk and stop selling to small retailers so that we fetch higher prices for our products”, Steven Wafula, KIFA member.
“The store will help us realize our vision of adding value to our produce. We plan to purchase a milling machine to process maize to make maize flour from here. We shall package and sell the maize flour under the brand name ‘Super KIFA’,” Rose Watuwa, KIFA member.
“When time for hunger comes, farmers who have bulked with us will buy the reserved produce at a subsidized price. The rest of the community will buy at a fairly higher price so that they are encouraged to bulk with us in the next season”, Godfrey Magyina, KIFA Chairperson
“This is really our home. People thought we were a group of unserious farmers without direction and focus because they could not see any physical evidence since we suffered like any other farmers working individually at the time of marketing. This store has changed all that”. Kyalawansi Joseph, NIFA member.
When I heard from EADEN that Danish Christians had made a collection to co-fund our association to build a store, I thought it was a joke because there could never be any one to give over 29 million Uganda shillings directly to farmers to help them do what they need! With what I have seen, I foresee increased wealth in our homes because we will no longer sell our produce at a giveaway price for lack of where to safely store our produce”, Nabirye Annet, NIFA member.
“The store is going to encourage more hard-working by the members. Previously, even the little we produced lacked accessible quality storage. We would be forced to sell immediately. Now that there is a large, safe and secure store, there will be no more worry of storage. We will produce more and more and will not have to sell immediately”, Kevina Kabuza, NIFA member.
“With this store now completed, our lobbying capacity is going to move to a higher level especially for value addition equipment since there is a secure store for the products”, said Mr. Nyiiro, NIFA Chairperson.
“It started as a dream in 2013 but ended up as a reality in 2016!! Thanks to Caritas Denmark and the Christians there for making our dream to come true. It is very humbling to learn that people very far from us, can feel our pain, forego their needs and support us in this work. The almighty God should reward them”. Nyiiro Simon Kateeba, Chairperson, NIFA.