Presidential aspirant and the leader of the Renewed Uganda Pressure Group, Rt. LT. Gen. Henry Tumukunde has revealed that lack of proper post-harvest handling which include; packaging, branding and value addition is the reason why Rice Growers in Butaleja district are losing millions.
Tumukunde attributes this to lack of will by the central government in as far as promoting value addition in the area which is predominant by the rice farmers,
He noted that this led to the reduction of the quality of Rice which negatively affects the prices, leaving farmers in dire poverty,
“They don’t get any benefit out of their crops because nothing is done like adding value, sweeten packaging,” he said
Tumukunde made these remarks while interfacing with the media, after campaigning in Butaleja district on Tuesday this week.
“We have to also train them especially young people for example in packaging of rice, grading so that they can get better prices so that it gives them moral,” he noted
The government has for the last past years, promoted Value addition in agricultural products, that is president Museveni has for long time encouraged farmers to interest themselves in Commercial agriculture as compared to Subsistence which is practiced by the bigger percentage.
Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of Uganda’s economy, employing 72% of the work force. Currently there is limited value addition to agricultural products and productivity is hampered by a number of supply-side constraints, including land fragmentation, insufficient infrastructure, lack of modern technology in agriculture, and corruption
On transportation of the rice and other agricultural products to the market, Tumukunde said that farmers reported to him bad roads,
“They have non tarmacked roads that goes to Mbale, they have been crying over it, am also told that they have title, which is supposed to be given to the group of the rice growers here,” he said adding,
“We shall make sure that we give them the title and make sure that it is owned by a cooperative,”
He vowed to avail funds for the youth such that they can promote themselves economically,
“Youth need to access credit and do a lot of things that being forced into projects the government, you should allow individual initiative to drive business rather than being packed in a group yet they don’t have a common interest,” he noted.