Farmers in Uganda who grow vegetables at Bumusse Irrigation Scheme in Manafwa District, have decried low prices of their products.
The farmers attributed the drastic fall in prices to closure of weekly markets and the ban on inter-district travel. The government early this month imposed the restrictions in a bid to contain the surging cases of coronavirus in the country. Mr Fred Wekesa, a farmer, said they currently sell a sack of cabbage at Shs15,000 down from Shs30,000.
“The prices have dropped for instance, we are selling tomatoes at Shs 500 a kilogramme yet we used to sell them at Shs1,500,” he said.
The Bumusse Irrigation Scheme, which sits on 15 acres of land in Bumusse Village in Bukusu Sub-county, was established in 2018 by the Ministry of Water and Environment to promote commercial agriculture. The scheme was lobbied for by area woman MP, Ms Mary Goretti Kitutu and currently provides a stable water supply for growing vegetables throughout the year even in the period of dry spell. Ms Kitutu said the farmers were zoned in specific projects as part of the government programmes to fight poverty and unemployment.
“The farmers’ income levels are much better than they were six years ago. They are now more organised and enterprising,” said the MP.
Ms Kitutu also noted a total of 2,000 women entrepreneurs in the district are also organised in associations and are growing passion fruits, irish and sweet potatoes, cabbage, avocado, watermelon, among others.
“Other groups are specialised in crafts making, tailoring, catering services but all this in bid to improve on their household income,” she said
Despite the low prices, some farmers hailed the scheme and said it has improved their livelihoods. According to Mr Gideon Nate Israel, a pump operator and farmer, before the scheme started, he used to grow cabbages and tomatoes, which would fetch him not less than Shs900,000 a year. But now he earns more than Shs1 million just in one season and about Shs12 million in a year.