Gov’t to support cotton and vanilla farmers

Government is implementing a training programme through the Ministry of Agriculture to empower  farmers with skills on production and marketing procedures of agricultural products that face price fluctuations.

According to the State Minister for Industry, Hon. David Bahati, government  will facilitate farmers to join cooperatives so that they can have high bargaining power with the buyers of their produce.
“We want to ensure that once they produce, the output is of quality because it is quality that fetches good prices on the internationals market,” said the Minister.

He added that in collaboration with the Finance Ministry, silos and other value addition facilities will be built to help farmers store their produce when prices are low.
“Exporters are also being trained on export regulations and how they can competitively capture the foreign export markets rather than being outcompeted by large scale commercial producers and exporters in other countries,” Bahati said.

Bahati made these revelations  while presenting a statement to the House on fluctuating farm gate prices of cotton and vanilla across the country. This was during Parliament’s plenary sitting on Wednesday, 29 September 2021. Speaker Jacob Oulanyah chaired the sitting.

According to the statement, the average selling price per kilogramme of seed cotton in Kasese was shs1,800 in 2019 but  shot up to shs2,100 in 2020. It however noted that in Northern and Eastern Uganda , the same crop averaged shs1,500 per kilo.
Bahati attributed the fluctuation in prices of cotton to extreme weather conditions like floods and drought that caused unexpected changes in quantities harvested.

Bahati added that a kilogramme of green bean vanilla had reached shs300,000 by 2020 but fell to shs50,000 and later to  shs10,000.

Fluctuation in prices of vanilla were attributed to crop theft that caused farmers to harvest immature crops and thus poor quality, marketing of the crop through middlemen who exploit farmers and the outbreak of Covid-19.

Hon. Micheal Timuzigu (NRM, Kajara County) urged the Agriculture Ministry to train potential exporters.
“If you train the potential exporters, they will be able to produce and export enough, and will also create provisions for employment which will lower the rate of unemployment in the country,” said Timuzigu.

Bughendera County MP, Hon. Acrobert Moses Kiiza tasked Government to provide security for vanilla farmers in the country to protect their crops from theft.

Hon. John Amos Okot (Agago North County) called for contract farming with synergies between industries and the Cotton Development Organization and Uganda Cooperative Alliance to protect the farmers and their crops.

Bahati committed to look into providing security to monitor cotton and vanilla farms in a bid to protect farmers’ crops.
He also said the Ministry of Agriculture is developing a strategy to train and provide extension services to farmers.
“In the medium and long run, the solution is industrialization where we add value to our products. I propose that at an appropriate period, you give us time to come to this House with a comprehensive statement on how we are planning to industrialize our country,” Bahati said.