“My son, as you can see, I am driving and hawking my poutry eggs from town to town, hoping to find buyers, ‘’says Mubiru John, a poutry and cattle farmer from Mukono district. The global Covid-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on his farm earnings. Since January 2020, the price of each tray of eggs has reduced from UG Shs 12,000 to UG Shs 7000. It is so frustrating for poutry farmers who continue to incur costs associated with poultry rearing.
To make matters worse, even the price of each litre of milk has plummeted from UG Shs 1200 to UG Shs 300 in spite of the exorbitant costs dairy farmers have to incur to realize healthy cows and milk production.
The Covid-19 preventive measures have seen businesses such as restaurants and public transport shut down and free movement curtailed. The measures have denied farmers a big percentage of their customer and market base. Even banana farmers have to watch their bananas go bad for lack of buyers.
The situation has been compounded by the dwindling disposable income among many people, with those engaged in the informal sector severly affected and unable to meet their basic needs.
Agricultural dealers who had large stocks of beans and maize flour have however made big money as the government buys their produce and equitably distributes it to the low income earners dwelling in urban centers, and also because of people’s preference of dry produce to other easily perishable goods like bananas.
Going forward, the economic stimulus packages, that many interest groups from different sectors are craving for from government to enable them stay on course in their business enterprises in this Covid-19 period should first be given to farmers who produce and add value to their farm goods and are willing to establish modernized storage facilities. There is no reason, for example, why bananas should rot when they can be turned into banana flour and crisps for consumption not in Uganda and other countries.
In sum, the Agricultural sector can play a big role in cushioning the country from economic shocks hence the need to prioritize agriculture in the economic stimulus plans during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
By Moses Hategeka
The writer is a Uganda based Independent Governance Reseracher and Public Affairs Analyst.