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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Information sharing key towards commercialization of Agriculture

Information sharing key towards commercialization of Agriculture. This was realized during the market information symposium held from 24th-25th at Kisinga play ground Kisinga sub county Kasese district. This was the second symposium of its kind in Uganda, it’s meant to bring buyers and farmers together. The symposium was co-organized by RIC-NET and KRC with support and funding form FIT Uganda and Agric-Pro-focus Uganda. The theme of the symposium was “promoting farmers entrepreneurship through the provision of sustainable market information services to enhance competitive trade”. Agric-Pro-Focus work with individuals, groups, companies and organizations like HIVOS, SNV and Oxfam working in the agriculture sector.
Around 600 farmers attended the symposium from within Kisinga which comprised farmers and groups The function too was attended by different farmers groups in Kasese [Rwenguhya farmers association dealing with fish farming, Kisinga community Sacco dealing with poultry and livestock,Maliba farmers association dealing with corona coffee,Bukonzo joint farmers dealing with processing coffee, which support farmers in sustainable agriculture, Snow Rural community association dealing in farming, Rwenzori integrated wildlife management which deals in fish farming, Babughirana cooperatives dealing in cassava farming], and individual farmers from within who had come to either buy or sell their products. Other farmers[groups and individuals were from; Kamwenge bee keepers association, Bunyangabo bee keepers from Kabarole, Masindi farmers association, NORAK from Bundibugyo District. Organizations which deal with information sharing were also represented like Bwera information center, Community Agriculture business capacity service [CABES] from Kabarole. There were also buyers represented by ESCO Uganda, Bakwanya Trading Company, William grain millers Quick service Supper market Fort portal and other companies from within and outside Uganda
The purpose of the symposium was to bring farmers and buyers together and share market information. Market information may include price information [trend of prices, current market price and the seasonal variations], information on buyers and offers in the market, weather; transport especially the fuel prices and means of transport. Other market information shared include on finance [agro- business loan and funding], production especially with data like quantity quality and standard. Transport information on list of buyers, distance and availability. The importance of market information is; helps to know how to plant, when, what and to who, do cost analysis, transform the lives of farmers. Market information helps farmers in decision marking Farmer’s voices were that there is inadequate ongoing market information, weather and climate have affected production, farm management methods are not used, and price and price fluctuations tend to frustrate farmers and leads to a negative attitude towards agriculture. However some members reiterated that the problem of farmers can still be handled by farmers themselves. Sometimes farmers still and wait for information. Mr. James Makundu a farmer in Kisinga mentioned that farmers can easily access information if “they form groups, society or cooperatives. We cannot wait for other people to come and unite us” Mr. Bonny Muthahinga a model farmer in Kiburara agreed with some farmers that there is need to intensify information sharing. “True farmers we don’t look for information, buyers should also help us with information of what should be produced and ongoing market prices.”
Farmers agreed that “information is a key for any successful farming”, farmers should develop the Vision towards Agriculture, do market research offers and prices, commercialize agriculture and make value of the service performed by members of the house hold in the farm. Ms Sarah Bogere a community worker mentioned that one problem is having large families. There is need for family planning [have few children]. Farmers should learn to budget for the families. Farmers also agreed to support and search for information to improve agriculture. Let us make agriculture more of business. Most people engage in crop product as life style that had be inherited from the great grandparents, this is a chance and let us use it wisely to commercialize what we produce by engaging in large scale production.
I therefore call on all the stake holders [the government agriculture department at local level and national level, the community based organization, faith based organization] to intensify the provision of information to the farmer. Since Rwenzori region is the basket of food in Uganda, farming can be the other alternative to move away from poverty.