Uganda, Iganga-The World Food Programme-WFP has started buying quality maize directly from farmers. This morning, a WFP picked up 40 metric tons of grain aggregated by 156 farmers in Nambale in Iganga district. WFP will also pick up more than 300 tons of maize from farmers in Kapchorwa, Teso, Southwest and other parts of Busoga.
Miyuki Yamashita who represented the WFP Country Director, during the launch of the direct buying program at Nambalee Sub county headquarter, said WFP has been buying food through tenders, which has been very competitive for most farmer organizations since they require high volumes of grain.
She says as a result, only large scale farmers and traders would bid leaving out small scale farmers. Yamashita says the direct purchases will provide an opportunity for WFP and the farmers to negotiate and arrive at a favorable premium price, without middlemen, adding that it will also make it easy for farmers to supply quality and the required quantities of produce.
“We are adjusting how we do business. Normally we buy from large scale farmers because they compete for large volumes. They quickly process and buy grain from small farmers and sell it to us. Although this way also benefitted farmers, it was not directly. Now the ability for some farmers to meet the standards shows us that where we are headed is the right direction,” she said.
Lydia Wamala, the WFP Communications Manager, says the idea is to enable small holder farmers to be able to supply quality grain to a wider market. Direct purchases from farmer organizations bring together WFP Uganda’s small holder developement programme through Agriculture Market Support and its local food purchase footprint.
Only last year, WFP bought 126 metric tons of food in Uganda. WFP has reached nearly 300,000 small holder farmers in Uganda to build their capacity to handle post-harvest losses, processing, marketing and finance. Although many farmers have in the past failed to meet the standards, there is some improvement this time around.
This year alone, WFP hopes to purchase over 1000 tons of maize from farmers. WFP is paying Shillings 1200 for a kilogram of maize grain compared to Shillings 850 that is being paid in the open market. Rebecca Mukyala, a farmer in Iganga says that the direct purchase by WFP is a great stride in their lives, adding despite working hard; farmers don’t get value for their work.
“We will hard work to supply more. This will enable us pay school fees and fend for our children. Many farmers are happy, especially because they met the required standards of supply,” Mukyala said.