Two major warehouses in the Ruwenzori region are struggling to attract the projected volumes of produce from maize farmers.
Under the warehouse receipt system, farmers deposit their produce in a warehouse. The system gives the farmers an opportunity to find market for their produce at a good price and help farmers deal with postharvest setbacks like storage.
The grain gets offloaded before it is weighed, graded, dried, bagged and stored. Every depositor eventually gets a receipt verifying their maize tonnage and grade.
The two warehouses, Rwimi warehouse in Kabarole district and Nyakatonzi in Kasese district are receiving produce below the required capacity.
Statistics at Rwimi warehouse indicate that the warehouse with a capacity of storing 2,000 tons of maize, have managed to store only 220 tons since January while at Nyakatonzi warehouse with a capacity of 1,000 tons attracted only 251 tons.
Moses Irumba, the Rwimi warehouse manager, says that he is surprised that majority of the farmers in Rwimi are engaged in Maize farming, but the quantity of maize stored in the warehouse is low.
Irumba says that they have sensitized farmers about the benefits of the warehouse receipt system, but the response from the farmers is lukewarm.
Francis Baguma, the manager Nyakatonzi warehouse that farmers are turned away because the quality of maize delivered to the warehouse is poor.
Richard Asiimwe, a rice farmer in Kakonga parish in Rwimi sub county says that the warehouse managers and district agricultural department hasn’t done much to educate the farmers about the system.
Although Asiimwe says that warehouse system is good, the warehouse also accepts a minimum deposit of 3,000kg, yet most individual farmers produce maize between 500kg and 1,500kg.
He also says that the warehouse charges 200,000 shillings for storage and cleaning the produce, which most farmers can’t afford.
Godfrey Mugisa, the chairperson Rwimi maize farmers, says that they are sensitizing farmers to increase production so that their produce is accepted by the warehouses.
There are six registered warehouses spread across the country. They include Agroways in Jinja, World Food Programme in Gulu, Nyakatonzi and Elshadai in Kasese, Masindi and Kapchorwa.
Last year, a report by USAID-LEAD (Livelihood and Enterprises for Agricultural Development) project’s maize team, indicated that all the warehouses are operating at less than 20 per cent capacity.
Members of Parliament have also doubted whether the Warehouse receipt system will be successful given the ignorance about the system even among leaders in the country.
According to the MPs on the Trade and Industry committee, the system that aims at improving agricultural commodity quality is still not known to the people who are expected to benefit from it.