Street Vending Empties Hoima Central Market

HOIMA – One-by-one, vendors are walking out of a fast emptying Hoima Central Market and pouring onto the crowded city streets to sell their merchandise easily.

The abandoned lockups are mainly on the second and the third floor of the storied facility built under the Markets and Agriculture Trade Improvement Project – MATIP.

The Shs 11 billion project was funded by the African Development Bank –ADB. About 100 lock-ups are occupied out of the available 180.

The market has over 800 registered vendors. theCooperator has however, learnt that a number of vendors are abandoning the lock-ups because customers are buying from the streets.

Henry Kyarigonza, the chairperson of Kahoora Market Vendors SACCO, said the growing number of street vendors is under cutting their colleagues inside the market.

He said they have severally asked Hoima city authorities to intervene and force street vendors to operate in gazzeted areas without much success.

“This challenge is also forcing the remaining vendors in the market to abandon the facility and go on the streets since buyers are no longer coming to the market because they get what they need on the street,” he said.

“For example, we had allocated the eggplant sellers lockups inside the market but since they wait for the whole day without getting a customer, they have also moved out of the market to sell their produce on the street,” he said.

Some market vendors have demanded a tax waver, citing slow business and low sales brought on by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and unregulated street sales in the central business area of the city.

Many sellers have relocated to city streets including Bunyoro-Kitara and Byabacwezi Roads.

“Every place in the city has turned into a market, therefore I request authorities to force such sellers into the market as a business center for specific commodities other than trapping buyers outside of the market on streets leaving those inside without customers” Haruna Kasangaki, a vendor and SACCO member.

Godfrey Kutegeka, the chairman Hoima Central Market Traders Association, said vendors are pushed out of the market by high taxes.

He demanded a tax waver. He said a combination of slow business, slow sales, outstanding bank loans and tax arrears make it hard for them to pay tax and sustain their trade.

“The vendors have a lot of debts because business slowed down due to COVID-19 and they cannot pay taxes. This forces some to move out of the market and operate on the street,” he said.

Hoima City Clerk, Godfrey Mbamanyisa, insists that vendors must pay their arrears worth about Shs 200 million.

He says failing to pay tax implies a failure to deliver various services in the market like security, water and electricity among others.

“We are supposed to pay UMEME, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) and other service providers such as cleaners and security are demanding Shs 42 million. Where should we get this money if the vendors are asking for tax wavers,” he asked.

Mbamanyisa said that soon they will evict all street vendors and hawkers.

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Amuru Builds Shs1.5bn Produce Stores

AMURU –To spur on-farm productivity and shore up the market for big volumes of agricultural commodities, Amuru District local government is constructing 11 produce stores worth about Shs1.5 billion for cooperative groups and farmer associations.

The 3,000 metric tons each capacity stores are being built in Atiak Sub County, one in Pabbo Sub County, four in the northern Amuru town council and three in Lamogi Sub County.

The beneficiary cooperatives include; Pupwonya Cooperative Society, Pabbo Rice Cooperative Society, Amuru Progressive Farmers’ Cooperative Society, Ojigi Cooperative Society in Amuru Sub County and Patopa Cooperative Society in Amuru district.

Samuel Kidega, the Amuru District commercial officer, said construction of the produce stores is funded under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project-ACDP program.

ACDP, which started in January 2012, is a partnership project between the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and the World Bank –financed by the bank’s International Development Assistance (IDA).

The project, implemented in 57 districts across Uganda, aims to raise on-farm productivity, production, and marketable volumes of selected agricultural commodities (maize, beans, rice, cassava and coffee).

Kidega said farmers have been hiring small lockup shops in the trading center to store their produce.

Amuru District Production Officer, Okwonga Batulumayo said a lack of storage facilities in most sub counties in the district forced farmers to store their produce in their houses.

“Quality is usually compromised when farmers store their agricultural produce in the house,” Okwonga said.

The production officer said Shs 2.5 billion has been given to the district to construct roads linking storage facilities to the market.

“These roads will ensure that farmers do not waste too much money on transport to access the market for their produce,” He said.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Orsbon Oceng, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner, urged farmers to own stores.

“The government is doing everything possible to help farmers move out of poverty by investing in projects that directly help them but they have to embrace the projects,” he said.

Amuru District has 15 produce stores already, which were constructed by non-governmental organizations but only one in Pabbo Kal in Pabbo Sub-County is fully operational.

Interviewed, Bartholomew Okwonga, the Amuru District Production Officer, said some farmers abandoned the produce stores because of poor handling of their produce in storage.

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Abapiri Farmers Lobby For Shs 400m Warehouse

KWANIA –Frustrated by how little farm produce they can stash away, a 450-member group of farmers allied with Abapiri Oil Seed Cooperative Society, in Abapiri Village, in Chawente Sub County, Kwania District is lobbying the government, well-wishers and donors for Shs 400 million to construct a warehouse.

The cooperative, which deals in soya beans, maize, simsim and other cereal crops plans to construct a store to bulk members’ farm produce for sale.

Stephen Otim, the chairman of the cooperative, said they have already procured land to build the warehouse but are still lobbying the government, well-wishers and donors for funds.

“We are grappling with the challenge of proper storage, however, the cooperative has a plan of constructing a big store estimated to cost Shs 400 million, we already have land but we are seeking support from the government,” he said.

He said the government should rehabilitate roads and provide irrigation systems to boost farmers’ production. Thomas Olal, a member of Abapiri Oil Seed Cooperative, is optimistic that construction of the warehouse will allow them to bulk their produce and sell at affordable prices to help members climb out of poverty.

Hellen Ayao urged the government to invest in different cooperatives in the country. She rallied people to join groups in order to benefit from the government programs.

“We lack a warehouse, I call upon the government to support us, we want to bulk our produce and sell at affordable prices as you know bulking is power. This will help us get a lot of money to eradicate poverty at the grassroots. I want to encourage people to join the group so that we benefit from the government program,” she said.

Patrick Bura, the Kwania District Commercial Officer, said in a telephone interview that; “Cooperatives have a potentially strong role in reducing poverty and social exclusion, and promoting national development. The government is yet to plan on how to support such cooperatives, but as of now they can write a proposal to the Africa Development Bank for financial support, yes as of now.”

Abapiri Oil Seed Cooperative Society started in 2017 as a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) – largely to promote commercial agriculture and strengthen group marketing for increased household income. The Cooperative currently has a total of 451 members with 150 loan portfolios. However, it is operating without a proper storage facility.

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Gulu Farmers Avoid Large Scale Farming

GULU –Deeply frustrated by the high cost of opening and ploughing virgin land, farmers in Acholi sub-region have steered clear of large scale farming.

Beatrice Kipwola, a member of Paicho Central Kal Cooperative Society in Paicho Sub County, Gulu district, told theCooperator that she has restricted herself to cultivating no more than five acres of land.

“Each season I plant only five acres of both soya beans and beans. This year, I had planned to add another five acres, but this means I have to inject Shs 900,000 in just opening and ploughing the virgin land, minus other inputs, planting and weeding expenses. This is a risk I don’t want to take, considering that high yields are not a guarantee,” Kipwola said.

A tractor costs between Shs 80,000 to Shs 90,000 to dig up an acre of unused land. An ox-plough costs Shs 40,000.

Since more than 90 percent of people in Acholi sub region are engaged in either subsistence or commercial agriculture –free hands for hire to open new land are hard to come-by because everyone is busy.

Each person or family does their own land opening.

Kipwola, who gets a net profit of about Shs 300,000 to Shs 400,000 every season, said she is afraid of expanding her gardens because hiring individuals to open land costs Shs 120,000 per acre. She said the high cost diminishes her profit margins.

Kipwola hires an ox-plough to open land.

Joska Lacaa, another member of Paicho Central Kal Cooperative Society, said she cannot cultivate beyond three acres.

Lacaa said she has restricted herself to growing only an acre of ground nuts and an acre of maize to avoid the prohibitive cost of opening new land.

She said uprooting a single tree stump from virgin land costs between Shs 10,000 to Shs 20,000.

“If there are 20 tree stumps on an acre, it means I have to part with a minimum of Shs 200,000 before employing the use of a tractor, twice. So, where will my profit come from?” Lacaa said.

Simon Opiro, the chairperson of Paicho Central Kal Cooperative Society, said land opening is a daunting task for the more active 47 female members of the cooperative. The cooperative has 219 members, but only 81 are active. Unlike men who can do some of the tasks, women have to hire most of the services, he said.

Opiro said that besides the prohibitive cost of hiring tractors for land opening, the whole sub county has only three tractors, which are always occupied. He said it takes about a month or more to get a tractor on-the-ground after booking.

Santa Joyce Laker, the chairperson of Atiak Sugar Plantation Out growers’ Cooperative Society Limited, said land opening is the biggest challenge to the cooperative.

“Operation Wealth Creation gives only seeds; how do you give seeds to someone who is unable to clear a large farm for commercial agriculture?” Laker said.

“We need support from government. It has only supported us to open land for sugarcane, not other crops, yet commercializing agriculture needs a lot of inputs,” Laker said.

A 2016 study of Land, Food, Security and Agriculture in Uganda by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Makerere University Business School found that cooperatives in Uganda now, unlike in the heyday of the cooperative movement, are not getting enough government support in terms of inputs.

The study suggests that agriculture credit be extended to cooperatives in form of tractor hire services and supply of inputs such as pesticides and other equipment, such that recovery is done at the time of sale of produce.

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Gulu Market Vendors Locked In Bitter Fight

GULU – The fast sprouting street markets in Gulu city have teed up a fierce battle between vendors in Gulu main market and roadside traders.

Vendors in the main market are looking to tighten their grip on their trade by locking out the fast sprouting street markets that are fiercely eating into their clientele.

Gulu Main Market Vendors’ Cooperative Savings and Credit Society has asked Gulu city council leaders to stop the mushrooming street markets in the city.

Since Gulu became a city last July, there has been a meteoric rise in street vending of clothes, shoes, and foodstuffs on roads and highways.

Market vendors tipped on SACCO formation

Christine Ajo, a vegetable trader in the main market, told theCooperator in an interview recently that she hardly sells anything in the evening because street vendors take over all the streets and roads.

“Evening is one of the peak hours for our sales; it is the time the working class buys things before heading home. But all those clients are taken away by the road-side sellers,” Ajok said.

Pamela Akumu, who sells second-hand clothes in the main market, said street vending and the poor location of her stall have diminished her business in the last eight months.

Akumu said before Gulu municipality became a city, her clients would walk all the way to her stall but now they go for the cheap clothes sold along the road.

Patrick Omaya, the chairperson of the vendors’ SACCO, said street markets have undercut them yet they pay all dues levied by the city council.

“When we go to Kampala, there are some shoes we buy at Shs 10,000 and sell here at Shs 15,000. But when you go to these street markets, you find such shoes being sold at Shs 8,000, so you wonder, where do they buy their stock from? Are those not stolen goods?” Omaya asked.

There are 22 gazetted markets within Gulu city. Omaya appealed to city council leaders to ensure that all street vendors are absorbed in those markets.

“These gazetted markets within the city still have space; they should be well furnished so that the sellers enter them. Some markets have no latrines, others have no dumping space. For instance, Highland Market has a dumping space right in the middle of the market, which is a health hazard because the rubbish takes long to be disposed of,” Omaya said.

Santo Obura, the Vice Secretary of Gulu Market Vendors SACCO, said the city council leadership has failed to handle the matter.

“Street vending is affecting us because clients prefer street shopping, leaving us market vendors with very few clients. We need freedom of biashara in the markets, not on the streets,” Obura said.

Gulu City Mayor, Alfred Okwonga couldn’t be reached for comment.

Gulu Market Vendors SACCO was registered in 2019 and has more than 2,000 members.

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Court Summons Civil Servants Over Forgery

LIRA – Grade One magistrate’s court in Lira has issued summons for three civil servants accused of forging an attendance list of the annual general meeting of Ayago SACCO.

The summons were issued on April 16 after the three skipped court.

The suspects are; Felix Odongo, a businessman, Lillian Alwedo, Richard Oyuku, and Denis Omara, all primary school teachers, and Josephine Alobo, the commercial officer of Lira. They are battling two counts of obtaining money by false pretense and uttering false documents.

However, only two of the accused persons; Josephine Alobo and Lillian Alwedo appeared before Lira Grade One Magistrate Hillary Rwamiranga on April 16.

Three skipped court and they include; Lira businessman Felix Odongo, Richard Oyuku, and Denis Omara, all teachers at Ayago primary school in Lira.

The magistrate remanded Alobo and Alwedo to Lira Central Government Prison until May 1, 2021, and immediately issued summons for the three.

Court heard that the accused, on January 15, 2020, while at Centenary Bank Lira branch, without lawful authority, forged an AGM attendance list of Ayago SACCO members in Lira City West Division.
The prosecution told the court that the accused persons wanted to change signatories to the Sacco’s bank account, but were arrested before they could accomplish their mission.
State Attorney Martin Rukundo also informed the court that investigations were still ongoing.

Ayago SACCO Limited in Lira City East division was established in 2012. It is fully registered with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives. The Sacco has 2,137 Members, 121 VSLAs, 14 institutions, and a current loan portfolio of over Shs 300m.

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51 SACCOs In Lira Get Emyooga Funds

LIRA –Fifty-one Savings and Credit cooperatives (SACCOs) in the Northern District of Lira have received Shs 30m each under the presidential initiative on job and wealth creation commonly known as Emyooga.

Emyooga was launched in August 2019 by President Museveni to spur a shift from subsistence to market-oriented production.

The government set aside Shs 260 billion to bankroll the programme with each constituency meant to receive Shs 560 million.

James Chemutai, the Deputy Resident District Commissioner of Lira, confirmed the funds have reached the accounts of the beneficiary SACCO groups.

“We have received 51 certificates, 33 are for Erute North and Erute South constituencies, and the remaining 18 for the city. All these Saccos have already received funds on their accounts, that means the president has fulfilled his pledge,” Chemutai told theCooperator in a recent interview.

“When the president launched the Emyooga program, very many people thought it was a campaign tool. They said the president was looking for votes through this Emyooga, which was a total lie. Now that politics is over, many people still thought the money would not come,” he said.

Chemutai applauded the president for honoring his pledge but cautioned beneficiaries to utilize the funds well.

“I take this opportunity to caution the beneficiaries of this money not to eat up this seed because Emyooga is a seed that the president feels should germinate and help the population get out of poverty,” he said.

He said people will be arrested for misusing the money.

The Lira Deputy Commercial Officer Santos Olade said some of the approved Sacco groups have already withdrawn their money from their bank accounts.

Olade said one performing artists SACCO in Erute South had already withdrawn up to Shs 24 million from their account.

“Emyooga guidelines require that when you have deposited Shs1million into the bank account, you end up getting Shs 3 million, so this group had Shs 8 million on their Sacco account so they got Shs 24 million,” he said.

Samuel Odongo, the chairperson of Erute South performing artist SACCO, said they will use the Shs 24 million to buy more equipment and give loans to members.

“We have a lot of experience and talent but we could not showcase it because we were financially unstable but now with the availability of the Emyooga money, we are optimistic we will have a better livelihood,” he said.

On December 11, 2020, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development wired Shs 1.5 billion to Lira district and each of the approved SACCO groups account received Shs 30 million.

Erute North constituency received Shs 500 million, Erute South got Shs 530 million and then Lira Municipality (now Lira City West) and East Divisions got Shs 560 million, which was instead wired to Lira City West Division leaving East with nothing.

Emyooga cash is largely given to Ugandans in the informal sector organized in Saccos under 18 clusters including; Boda Boda riders, tailors, taxi drivers, restaurants, welders, market vendors, women entrepreneurs, youth leaders, people with disabilities, journalists, performing artists, veterans, fishermen, private teachers, and elected leaders.

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Budget: Kwania Cooperatives Get Shs 89m

KWANIA –The district local council has allocated Shs 89,378,000 million to run cooperatives next financial year. The money will go to the 14 fully registered Saccos in the Northern district, and 917 Village Saving Associations (VSLA).

According to the draft budget presented before the council on April 19 2021 by the Secretary of Finance and Administration Geoffrey Eling Owera, Shs 89m was allocated under Trade, Industry, and Local Economic Development.

The money, according to Eling, will cater for market linkage services, cooperatives mobilization, and outreach services.

About Shs 2.9bn has been allocated to production and marketing, Shs 669m to statutory bodies, finance (Shs 216m), and administration (Shs1.7bn), while Shs 280m went to natural resource, community-based services got Shs172m, water and sanitation (Shs 582m) and Shs 967m was allocated to works and technical services among other sectors.

The draft budget was consequently deferred to the sectoral committee for scrutiny before the final approval in the subsequent council sitting as directed by Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi.

The district, however, has a shortfall of about Shs 4bn in 2021/2022. In the financial year 2021/2022, the district projected to raise about Shs 24.5b down from Shs 28.6 billion projected last financial year.

Geoffrey Eling Owera, the finance secretary, blamed the shortfall on the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted local government revenue. Eling told the council that the district only managed to raise 20 percent in local revenue in the last F/Y interrupted by Covid-19.

Eling said key stakeholders and district leaders have to lobby for more funding to improve service delivery.

“Mr. Speaker, as leaders and stakeholders in the district, it is our full responsibility to mobilize for more funding from donors through lobbying and advocacy, this calls for concerted efforts for the wellbeing of the people of Kwania district,” he added.

Albina Awor, the chief administrative officer of Kwania, blamed the budget shortfall on the change of the Indicative Planning Figure (IPF) and a ban on charcoal burning and transportation, a major source of local revenue.

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UNBS develops 110 new standards for food and agricultural sector

In a move aimed at promoting the quality, safety and competitiveness of agricultural commodities on the Ugandan market, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has developed over 110 new standards for products in the food and agricultural sector.

The Executive Director of UNBS, Eng. Dr. Ben Manyindo, made the revelation while presenting the 2019/20 UNBS annual performance report at Uganda Media Centre recently, saying:

“Standards and conformity assessments improve efficiency of production, facilitate international trade and contribute towards Uganda’s economic development, food security and the livelihood of the people.”

Manyindo urged those involved in the trade of food and agricultural produce to familiarise themselves with the standards in order to avoid falling afoul of the law.

“UNBS will have the standards enforced with no body having any excuse for pleading ignorance,” he warned.

The Standards boss revealed that the Bureau developed 505 standards last financial year, of which 110 are in the food and agricultural sector, bringing the total number of standards in use in the country today to 3948.

In other areas, 125 standards were developed for engineering, 148 in chemicals and consumer products and 122 for management and services. Manyindo stated that the newly developed standards will support key sectors and catalyse Uganda’s economic growth.

To boost comprehension and implementation of the standards, the bureau has moved on to simplify select food and agricultural standards into easy-to-use guidelines, translated into widely spoken local languages, a move that has benefitted over 600 farmers in the country so far.

The UNBS report also noted an 11% improvement in its market surveillance and inspection performance from 6,648 done the previous year to 7,345 inspections conducted last financial year, covering 56% of the entire country.

The surveillance effort unearthed some areas of concern with regard to sub-standard goods and non-compliance with standards requirements.

“The prevalence of sub-standards goods on the market is still a challenge especially from the informal business, thus calling for more efforts in consumer vigilance, market information sharing, partnership at local governments and consumer awareness,” Manyindo commented.

From import inspection and surveillance in 2019/20, Manyindo said that UNBS intercepted and destroyed a total of 232 metric tonnes of sub-standard goods, worth over Shs 2.5bn. Although the Executive Director said UNBS is moving to tighten inspection at border points and decentralize services to different districts, he notes that there is a staff gap as they currently have over 1,400 workers out of an expected 6,000.

Manyindo also says that out of a total of Shs 68.9bn approved, government released only Shs 59.7bn as budget for financial year 2019/2020 out of which the bureau generated and remitted Non Tax Revenue of Shs 38.2bn to the consolidated fund.

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Local non-profit mentors farmers into entrepreneurs

In a bid to break the cycle of poverty, thousands of farmers in Gulu, Nwoya, and Kitgum district have embraced entrepreneurship, engaging in income generating activities like retailing silver fish, vegetables and other produce.

This after they were mentored by Village Enterprise, a non-profit organization through its Saving With A Purpose(SWAP) scheme that teaches members to first identify their need and then save for it for a particular period.

Participants in the scheme say the practice of targeted saving it encourages has been a life-changer. Last Tuesday, the group members shared their savings after nine months of saving.

Milly Achola, a 50-year old resident of Kiceke village in Paicho Sub county, Gulu district says that she has belonged to saving groups before, but her experience with SWAP has been different.

“I did not know much about business. I would just save for schools fees and had no money to buy even just household utensils, but now I can proudly host my friends and relatives,” the mother of five said, showing off the household items she had bought through the scheme.

Okot Patrick Obbo, the L.C I General Secretary Kiceke village said the SWAP scheme has reduced gender based violence in the area by involving the entire family.

“In other saving groups, locals sneak to save money; sometimes women will even steal farm produce to sell off in order to get money to save weekly but usually ends in fights between couples. With SWAP, both partners and their children are involved, so it’s a collective effort which discourages secrecy,” he said.

Farmers to entrepreneurs

Village enterprise’s Saving With A Purpose (SWAP) scheme was launched in 2016 in Nwoya district to help individuals and businesses set and achieve specific targets. The non-profit which also operates in Gulu and Nwoya recently extended operations to Kiryandongo and Masindi.

They mostly deal with farmers, retailers, produce dealers and skilled business people like tailors and restaurant operators.

Agnes Aryemo, a business mentor at Village Enterprise, says each group consisting of three members is given a grant of Shs 520,000 to start an enterprise of their choice.

“Being in a group encourages sustainability of the project and safety of the grant. If one person decides to leave the group, the remaining two members can continue,” she said.

“Much as many of the members are farmers, the program encourages them to engage in income generating activities so that they can have a good cash flow,” Aryemo added.

Aryemo trains the group members on skills like writing business plans and record keeping, among others to ensure that the businesses are sustainable and profit making.

“I have seen families transformed. There are families which did not have even cups with which to drink water when the project started.

It’s common for saving groups to spend all their money on clothes, food and unnecessary things because they don’t save with a purpose,” she pointed out.

According to Zita Akwero, the Northern Regional Manager Village Enterprise, a total of 4,075 farmers in Gulu, Nwoya and Kitgum have since 2016 benefited from the project.

In Kiceke village, Paicho Sub County, Gulu district, 30 women-mostly farmers under Rubangatwero Bolicup saving group told Mega FM, a local radio station, that they have been able to acquire household assets after engaging in commercial farming and other income generating activities like retailing vegetables.

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