KAMPALA — Farmers are to pay more for agro inputs such as fertilizers in the next planting season due to COVID-19. This is because most fertilizers are imported and purchased in foreign currencies.
Before the pandemic, exchange rate of for example one shilling to the dollar was 3670 but this has since increased to 3800.
That means those importing fertilizers in this period will have to pay more for the purchase of the fertilizers, pay more for shipping costs from Mombasa port to Uganda among other costs.
Hassan Kato an agro dealer based in Masaka said that they import most of the fertilizers from Kenya.
“Before the outbreak, a 50kg bag of NPK was going for Ksh2350 but has since gone up to Ksh2500. Coupled with transportation costs, the final price may be increased a bit if we are to remain in business,” added Kato.
This was during a Webinar organized by the Africa Fertilizer Platform, targeting the stakeholders in the National Fertilizer platform, supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Joel Kakaire the country manager of AFAP said that views shared by the stakeholders will be shared with relevant stake holders for action.
The other challenge pointed out by stake holders is delayed clearance at the border, there are many road blocks and curfews, making it hard to deliver inputs upcountry.
“Agriculture inputs were cleared during the pandemic but endless road blocks and long long clearing procedures made it hard for us to distribute fertilizers to our clients in the far east and southwestern Uganda, explained Victor Otieno from Yara East Africa, another fertilizer importing organisation.
Need for Village agents
To help farmers’ access fertilizers, in times of crisis like COVID 19 being faced now, Dr. John Jagwe, the country manager of AGRA called on fertilizer companies to work with village agents to stock up the needed amounts of fertilizers to be accessed by farmers in his or her village.
He noted that these can help in providing basic advisory services, act as aggregators of produce which will go a long way towards improving extension service delivery as the country comes to terms with COVID 19.
“Mass gatherings for training will no longer be possible while crowding in urban areas whether most agro-input outlets are located will also be discouraged hence village agents will be a good alternative for such