UGANDA – The Government of Uganda is working with private warehouse owners, through the public-private sector model, to offer grain warehousing services across the country to boost grain quality and position the country as a major grain producer and exporter.
The development comes at a time when dealers and importing countries like Kenya and South Sudan have raised concerns over the poor quality of Ugandan grains, especially maize, which is hindering Ugandan farmers from engaging in international trade.
Speaking during a tour of the Tonga Investment Grain Facility, Deborah Kyarasiime, the Managing Director of Uganda Warehouse Receipt System Authority [UWRSA] said that the move is part of the government’s effort to improve the quality of Ugandan grain.
According to her, the facilities will be used by farmers to store their grain, and also have it graded before delivery to both the domestic and foreign markets.
This, she added, would offer grain storage and standardization services to farmers and farmer groups across the country, making Uganda’s grains more competitive in the region and ensuring better returns for the farmers
Under the warehouse receipt system, farmers collect their produce, sometimes through cooperatives, and store it in gazetted licensed warehouses where they are issued with a receipt which they can use to look for markets or stake it as collateral in financial institutions to access funding.
Kyarasiime noted that the warehouse receipt system offers a good platform through which the non-bankable in the country, especially farmers can be brought into the money economy for the benefit of households and the wider economy.
Robert Mwanje, the managing director of Tonga Investments Limited and also the chairman of the Grain Council of Uganda [TGCU] lauded the government for its support.
He stressed the importance of the partnership in driving the grains quality agenda, which he said is key in helping Uganda firm its position as a major food basket for the region.
“We have embarked on a journey of standardizing this facility [Tonga Investment grain facility] and the actual winner is the farmer who will have a good facility to keep and preserve his produce,” he said.
He said Uganda is endowed with good soils and rainfall which many times support better harvests. However, he noted, failure to preserve what is harvested undermines this advantage.
“Drying the produce, processing it, and keeping it is always a challenge to the farmer,” he said, adding that the facility will help deal with this challenge.”
Part of the support extended to Tonga Investments Limited includes a dryer, a weighbridge, and paving of the facility which will be open to farmer farmers in the greater Mityana area.