Brian Babeyo checks on his cocoa fruits/ Business Focus photo
Cocoa farmers and experts in Kasese District are demanding the establishment of an independent authority to oversee crop production. They reason that the absence of such a body has affected their production and quality of Cocoa, which has affected the visibility of Uganda’s Cocoa on the international market.
Emmanuel Lubega, the Uganda-South Sudan national coordinator at the East African Business Council (EABC), says such a body like a case is for cotton and coffee would ensure farmer’s produce in line with the set standards.
Apparently, intermediaries take advantage of farmer’s lack of knowledge to determine the quality and quantity of Cocoa.
Lubega says that the authority would develop policies and guidelines to streamline cocoa production right from the farm level to the market.
Lubega also says the authority would also eliminate the exploitation of farmers by intermediaries who often dictate the prices.
Julius Rukara, the Kasese District Agriculture Officer agrees that the country requires such a body that would govern and supervise cocoa production and standards.
Rukara says a national body could also help farmers add value to their produce, something they have failed to do as a district due to the absence of skills and financial resources.
Rose Mary Mbabazi, a cocoa farmer in Kajwenge parish in Kisinga Sub County, says that many farmers like her have limited knowledge regarding cocoa post-harvest handling, which affects their returns. She wants a body that would help them improve the quality of their produce through organized groups.
Robert Kule, another cocoa farmer from Kisinga Sub County says that most of them lack awareness about new agriculture technology due to the absence of an authority to introduce them to such innovations.
He reasons that once there is such an authority, the farmers can organize them into groups to determine their market prices.
In Kasese, a kilogram of fresh cocoa costs between Shillings 2500 and Shillings 3000 while the dry beans go for as high as Shillings 8000. According to information from NAADS, Cocoa is Uganda’s fourth-biggest commodity export after coffee, tea and fish.