KAMPALA – The World Food Programme in Uganda(WFP) is aiming at helping smallholder farmers in the country as one of its major strategies to increase the country’s rapid response capacity to hunger and food deficits.
The revelation was made by the Organization’s Country Representative El-Khidir Daloum on Wednesday, July, 31,2019 at the Globe Trotters warehouse in Kampala where the NGO received a contribution worth USD 10.2 million from the Russian government.
“Working with smallholder farmers is one of the major strategic objectives of WFP in Uganda. We are aiming to buy atleast 10% of our total purchase from smallholder farmers.” Mr Daloum said.
The WFP Boss called upon the government to join the organization in its quest to empower local peasants so that they can directly sell their products to the NGO without including middlemen in the process.
“So we would like to work with the government of Ugandan especially the Ministry of Trade, Agriculture, local governments and the Ministry of Finance to see how we can get a big aggregate of smallholder farmers so that they can be able to sell their commodities directly to WFP,” he said.
However, Daloum says that they are willing but unable to purchase grain from every single farmer or association because this proves costly so they end up giving tenders to middlemen who usually take advantage of the Wananchi.
“When we’re buying from the brokers, the food whether maize or beans has already left the smallholder farmers and the major benefit will come to the traders,” he lamented.
Last year 2018, over USD 60 millions were injected into the local economy by WFP through purchasing of grain.
However, the organization’s Guru expressed fear that these benefits do not trickle down to the rural communities who are usually the grassroots on which the economy hangs for support.
Although Ugandans have been given the priority to supply grain to WFP as the primary suppliers, the country has failed to deliver what is expected of it.
This has left the UN organization with no other option but to rather resort to the wider East African and South African markets in order bridge the gap left by the Ugandan market.
The Country Representative informed the media that last year three Ugandans were given contracts to supply grain but they eventually failed to deliver.
He was also worried that the organization may not be able to purchase half of the 200,000 metric tons of grain which is their target for 2019 because of the insufficient market supply.
Uganda is set to miss over USD 70 millions that were budgeted by WFP to purchase grain in 2019 because the local market does not have the capability to satisfy the organization’s demand.
Many farmers in Uganda who continue to carry out subsistence agriculture, lack co-operatives that would enable them reach the global market and so their produce is consumed at miserable prices.
Smallholder farmers don’t employ the modern techniques of farming especially when it comes to drying and storage of cereal crops and this eventually undermines the quality of grain.
Such technology is very costly and cannot be afforded by these farmers yet the government has failed to create an impact through its programs like NAADS, Operation Wealth Creation among others which have only proved to be barking dogs.
There is no law or policy to protect the small scale farmers from the exploitation of the businessmen who unfairly underpay them for their products and make abnormal profit after selling them at higher prices.