Increased cotton prices excite farmers in Acholi

GULU – Cotton farmers under West Acholi Cooperative Union Limited are excited about increased cotton prices from Shs1,500, last year to Shs 2700, this year.

West Acholi Cooperative Union Limited, is a farmer based cooperative union established in1960.

The Union has 9,300 members with 60 primary cooperatives in the districts of Amuru, Nwoya, Gulu and Omoro.

Each primary cooperative has between 60-150 members.

The cooperative majorly grows cotton, soya, maize, groundnuts

According to the General Manager, West Acholi Cooperative Union, (WACU), Bob Albert Ogen, cotton prices internationally have gone high compared to the previous years and we expect more farmers to engage in cotton farming.

“At the moment, the production is low internationally that is why the prices have gone high,” he said.

“China and India have been hit harder by Covid-19, yet they are the largest producers of cotton; limiting their activities in cotton growing that is why prices have gone high,” he said.

The demand is high but production is low worldwide, according to Ogen’s observation.

We anticipate more cotton acreages next year. As leaders we are on the ground mobilizing farmers.

Cotton takes five months to mature and most farmers in West Acholi grow between one to three acres.

Jackson Okwera, a cotton farmer also Chairperson Puranga Gem Cooperative Society said, the price increment has motivated more farmers to revive cotton growing.

“Some farmers had abandoned the crop arguing that it was labor intensive yet the returns are little,” he said.

Members are eager to plant on a large-scale next year, looking at the price increment.

He however warned the farmers on planting only cotton because of its price increment, adding that food security is key in having stable families.

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Uganda gains new access to Zambia’s dairy market

UGANDA – Uganda has gained new access to Zambia’s dairy market despite a long-standing impasse with Kenya on ban on the export of powdered milk.

While unavailing the new market, Pearl Dairy flagged off 50 tons of powdered milk to Zambia.

During the launch, Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), thanked Pearl Dairy for ensuring a high standard investment contribution towards the development of the dairy value chain of Ugandan milk.

“I congratulate you for this breakthrough in the new market and for being consistent in ensuring quality standards. Whoever says, he can not take Ugandan milk because of quality issues, is either speaking out of ignorance or malice,” said Minister Tumwebaze.

He also applauded Zambia and Coca-Cola for the policy of supporting African products.

“With such new milk markets, dairy farming will gain more momentum enticing farmers to advance its production capacities to satisfy the export market,” said Minister Tumwebaze.

Minister Tumwebaze condemned international companies rejecting Uganda’s milk without carrying out tastes and research.

“There is no rocket science here. If you doubt the quality of our milk, come and taste it because standards are not unique to a country, they are universal. So, I want to appeal to Ugandans especially you the media and the elite who would like to take wrong propaganda online and elsewhere, you are doing us a disservice,” the minister said.

Tumwebaze cautioned farmers and processors to build their farms, factories and companies with a focus on its value chain in order to sustain the products market.

“The value chain helps a farmer to be sensitive on what the market requires and at MAAIF, we want to follow the value chain flow. If its beef which is still one of the undeveloped value chains, how do we prepare our beef exports for the international market?”

Gen David Kajura Kyomukama, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture also emphasized that the issue of agriculture in Uganda is an issue of production and productivity, post-harvest handling, marketing, pasteurization and adding value to industrialization.

“All of them are linked because without market, people produce at a loss because the price will go down. And if you are not consistent in what you produce at your factory; you will not have market for your products. The world now is keen on food safety and quality standards which is one of our ethical codes as a ministry,” Kyomukama advised.

“I will continue to push our neighbors to discuss the trade issues and we hope bilaterally and in the spirit of the East African Corporation, we will get a way forward in as far as a win-win trade between Kenya and Uganda is concerned,” Tumwebaze explained.

Lt Col James Mwesigye, the Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Mbarara, appreciated Pearl Dairy as a leading factory in creating employment opportunities to the people of the western region.

“I remember one time when they were stopped from taking their products to Kenya, they took some days without operating and the whole of western region was crying. So, when you are helping Pearl Dairy, you are indirectly helping a farmer also to get money,” says Mwesigye

Lord Mayor, Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi appealed to the government to improve on the quality of acaricides which has become a public issue among farmers to fight tick borne diseases in the region.

“I am sure our milk standards will increase but I request the government to improve on the quality of drugs which farmers use especially those used to fight ticks such that our farmers can stop suffering unnecessary expenditures on drugs,” says Kakyebezi.

Bijoy Varghese, the General Manager, of Pearl Diary, the first to supply milk products to the new market said the factory consumes 800,000 litres of milk daily collected from 100,00 farmers from the Ankole cattle corridor.

Pearl Dairy Farms Ltd is a milk processing company located in Biharwe, a neighborhood along the Masaka-Mbarara Road.

The dairy factory is one of Uganda’s top milk processors built on 15 acres (6.1 ha)with capacity to process over 800,000 litres of milk daily for the last 9 years.

It processes Lato Milk and its branded products such as flavored milk, yoghurt, ghee, powdered milk, UHT milk, butter and flavored milk as the four leading export products for the dairy company in Uganda.

The dairy factory has invested heavily in its state-of-the-art processing plant that exports its products to over 20 countries including; Japan, Nepal, UAE, Egypt, Oman, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, and South Sudan among others.

“We produce world class quality products that conform to both the local and international market standards. And within the last 2 years, we have expanded our reach to Malawi, Ethiopia, and Burundi,” said Varghese.

According to statistics from the Dairy Development Authority, milk production in the country has increased from 2.5 billion litres in 2018 to 2.8 billion litres in 2020 and also the dairy exports have increased to over Shs.341 billion in the last four years.

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Alebtong district failed to recover Shs. 840m from youth projects

ALBETONG – Alebtong district has failed to recover Shs 840m which the government released to support various youth projects in the district.

The money was disbursed to supplement Youth Livelihood Program (YLP) and Youth Venture Fund (YVF) in three financial years (2014/2015, 2017/2018, 2019/2020) according to the district LC5 boss, David Kennedy Odongo.

He said the district received Shs1.4b in these financial years to support the projects but since then they have recovered only Shs153m.

“The financial support was given to youth groups and they were supposed to get, use it and repay but a number have failed to repay,” Odongo said.

His comment followed the recent concern raised by the District Youth Chairperson, Robert Ocen during the youth day celebration. He further said, government was at the stage of scrapping the Youth Livelihood Program and redirecting the funds to the Parish Development Program.

“The youth are leaving in fear that Youth Livelihood Program which was the only program to facilitate youth activities will soon be no more,” Ocen was quoted as saying during the celebration held at Alebtong primary school.

Odongo said with the figure of Shs 840 unrecovered, it means a lot of money is still with the youth though they are crying for government support, marginalization and scrapping of youth development projects.

He also said, the government has already invested a lot on youth and their budget for this financial year 2021/2022 to the tune of Shs29b and allocated Shs14b for education.

“When you talk about education, it means you are talking about the youth who are going to be future leaders,” he added.

“The government injected Shs 2b for the construction of Abia Seeds Secondary School, Shs1.8b for Awei and Shs800m for Angetta Secondary School,” said Odongo.

He advised young people to embrace government programs such as Emyooga and Parish Development Program which are due to be kicked off.

“Work on your mindset and avoid the blame game if you want to progress,” he added.

He said under the Emyooga program, the district has received Shs 1.1b and what has already been disbursed is Shs 370m.

Ocen requested the government to extend the repayment period of Emyooga to one year and relax other conditions required to access the money.

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COP26: UNEP calls for more efforts on climate finance and adaptation plans

GLASGOW – Finance for climate change adaptation as well as implementation plans are still very low, despite increasing policies and planning for climate change mitigation, a new report published by United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, has said.

The Adaption Gap Report, 2021: The Gathering Storm, says although the world is focused on stepping up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, there is a need to “dramatically up our game to adapt,” as climate impacts continue to outpace attempts to adapt to them,” said Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP.

The report was launched on Thursday as world leaders continued to hold discussions at Glasgow in the 26th UN conference on climate change, to jointly attempt to limit global warming, in fulfillment of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

In 2001, the Adaptation Fund was created under the Kyoto Protocol to finance real adaptation projects in developing countries that are most vulnerable to the harsh effects of climate change.

Adaptation and climate finance are the first two goals of the COP26, aiming at urging countries affected by climate change to “protect and restore their ecosystems and build defenses, warning and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives,” through various programs.

However, Anderson said, adaptation financing is still a huge concern because the gap between what we need to spend to adapt and what we are spending is widening, and could reach $ 280-500 billion each year by 2050 for poor countries alone.

The report adds that although international public adaptation finance has risen by 50% between 2017-2020, it is still low.

The report recognizes that climate change adaptation is increasingly being embedded in policy and planning worldwide by countries. At least 79% of all countries are said to be using at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument, showing a 7% rise since 2020.

Andersen said, all these efforts are not yet enough, even if the tap on greenhouse gas emissions were to be turned off today.

“We need to scale up further and increase public adaptation finance including but not limited to overcoming barriers for private sector engagement, as implantation at current rates may not keep pace with increasing levels of climate change.”

“This UNEP report clearly shows that we need to change our adaptation ambition for funding and implementation, to significantly reduce damages and losses from climate change. And we need it now,” she said.

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