Farmers in the Acholi sub-region have raised concern over the sorry state of produce stores built by the government during the Lord’s Resistance Army – LRA rebels post-conflict.
Several stores across the eight districts in the region are non-functional or their roofs were blown out by violent storms.
For instance, at Awor Trading Centre in Lakwana Sub-County, Omoro District – a mini cotton ginnery and ginning store built in 2007 has been out of use because of inconsistent power supply.
Dominic Ameny, a farmer who doubles as the Local Council I Chairperson of the area with over 500 farmers says the store has not been beneficial to the farmers and urges the government to revamp it to save them from wastage and promote productivity.
Patrick Nyeko Lumumba, the Chairperson of Waribu Pit Farmers’ Group in Amuru Town Council with a membership of 112 farmers says that the lack of a store in the area has for years led to wastage of tonnes of rice, beans and groundnuts produced by the members.
In neighbouring Lamogi Sub-County, Amuru District, the farmers have lost the only community store built by the government in partnership with non-organization to storms. The roof has been blown off since 2016 and has never been replaced.
Adkin Ojara, the LCIII Sub-County Chairperson says some landowners have gagged the community from accessing the stores because such facilities were built on their land without compensation.
A recent meeting of Resident District Commissioners, Community Development Officers and Commercial officers in Gulu discovered that up to 18 government stores in the Acholi sub-region are not functioning, dilapidated thus requiring urgent refurbishment to save farmers from the burden of crop wastage.
Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries through the Agriculture Cluster Development Programme – ACDP backed by the World has dispensed 1.5 million shillings to construct modern stores in 11 sub-counties of Amuru District.
The ACDP introduced in 2017, has been rolled out to over 20 districts that include, Omoro, Nwoya, Iganga, Ntungamo, Kalungu, Nebbi, Masaka, Mpigi, Rakai, Bugiri and Namutumba.
Others are Gulu, Rubanda, Pakwach, Kabaale, Bushenyi, Isingiro, Kyotera, Bugweri, Bunyangabu, Maracha, Arua, Yumbe and Rukiga.
According to the Ministry, through ACDP, registered farmers are also enabled to access critical farm inputs and equipment for post-harvest handling at subsidized costs met using an online system that links registered farmers to pre-qualified, certified agro-input dealers.