Due to drastic fall in the prices of food products, Government has advised farmers to adopt value addition methods to avoid losses.
Farmers especially banana producers in various parts of the country are currently decrying rapid fall in prices of bananas which has consequently affected farmers’ household incomes.
The increased food production has caused challenges such as big food supply to the market amdist low effective consumer demand and purchasing power.
Speaking to reporters at Uganda Media Center on Thursday, the Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Vincent Bamulangaki Sempijja attributed this largely to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic that has affected distribution and consumption chains in both local market such as schools, hotels and restaurants and regional markets such as South Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Sempijja advised farmers to do value addition and implement recommended post harvestig management practice to improve marketability and profitability of the produce in order to avoid losses.
“To address the challenge of current falling food prices particularly for bananas and cereals, our farmers and other stakeholders are advised to harness the opportunities for value addition that have been explained by His Excellency the President,” said Sempijja.
President Museveni initiated value addition on bananas through Presidential Initiative for Banana Industry Development (PIBID) located at Nyaruzinga in Bushenyi district where bananas are proceeded into “tooke” flour, baking flour, cakes, biscuits among others.
“Farmers are encouraged to work hand in hand with PIBID management to add value to their bananas to avoid losses. I wish to appeal to our farmers and investors to explore and carryout more banana value addition activities. Processors of ethanol and other spirits from sugarcanes, cassava and maize are encouraged to use banana as alternative sources of raw materials. Adding value to various crops will help to mitigate the falling prices, create more jobs, increase incomes, enhance import substitution and overall reduce poverty through stimulated agricultural production and increased productivity,” Sempijja said.
Further, the Minister appealed to farmers who are preparing to harvest or already harvestig to strictly adhere to the recommended harvestig, post harvestig, primary processing and storage practices.
He tasked farmers to harvest crops at right maturity stages, avoid drying produce on bare ground or dirty surfaces, ensure proper sorting and grading of produce and dry produce on clean surfaces such as plastic sheets and tarpaulins among others.
On matters storage, Sempijja called on farmers to always clean facilities properly before storage, protect the produce from pests, moisture and humidity variations and where possible store produce in recommended storage facilities such as hemetic bags and air tight metallic silos.
“Farmers lose a lot of food and produce during harvestig, primary processing and storage,” he said.
He announced that Government through various Ministry Agencies, programs, projects and partners such as National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS), Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP), World Food Programme (WFP), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has procured and distributed post harvest handling facilities to farming communities.