MBARARA – It’s a ray of hope for maize farmers in the districts of Ibanda, Kamwenge and Kyegegwa who have been struggling with unfair prices as a 20bn grain facility is launched in Mbarara.
This facility is to be constructed in Ruharo ward, Kamukuzi division Mbarara municipality and will handle among others storage, value addition, quality and marketing among others. It will have grain cleaners, driers, sorters, destones, grain silos and milling.
During the groundbreaking on Tuesday, John Magnay, the Chairman board of directors Agro-Ways said the project will be implemented in different phrases and will cost Shs20 billion with funding from Stanbic bank and ABi-Trust.
He said in the first phrase they have started on, will cost them Shs8 billion.
Magnay said the initial target will be to support 6600 farmers to ensure quality production, fair and better prices as they will be linked directly to markets, and also offer a warehouse receipt system where farmers use this to access loans.
“We already have market for this maize by Nile breweries, there are also potential markets across borders, and famers will no longer struggle with prices. We will also have a receipt system here where farmers will store their grain and can use this to access loans,” added Magnay.
He said the project targets among others to see farmers increase from the current 800 kg per acre to 1600 kg per acre and post-harvest losses reduced by 50 percent in first phase.
This facility is expected to handle over 300,000 metric tons of maize every year in addition to creating hundreds of jobs to people who will build and operate the facility, the suppliers of materials, maize suppliers, transporters, labour at household level among others.
Nile Breweries Country director Thomas Kamphuis said this project is important in the transformation of farmers and as the company they have already aligned with them to ensure they offer a regular and stable market
“We are soon coming up with a beer that is made of maize, most of our raw materials are locally sourced so we are assuring you that the market will be there and we will give the necessary support, ‘said Mr Kamphuis.
The district chairperson Kamwenge Aggrey Natumanya said the coming up of this facility raises a lot of optimism that farmers can still count of maize as a source of livelihood.
“We have had challenges with maize growing, it has remained our number one source of income and food security but has of recently been threatened with low prices and reduction in production. Imagine last year a kilo of maize went as below as Shs150, this investment will bring back our hopes in maize as a source of social -economic transformation,” said Natumanya.
Beatrice Byarugaba, the director extension services ministry of Agriculture said this facility will boast production of maize especially with farmers getting linked to markets that has been a challenge.