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Mbarara Grape Farmers Lose Millions Due To Lockdown

Grape farmers in Mbarara district are decrying losses resulting from the nationwide lockdown, which has disrupted the supply chain. Currently, farmers spend long days in their gardens chasing away birds that prey on ripe grapes.

Alex Asiimwe, the Chairperson Nyakayojo Grape Farmers Association, says the grapes are falling off while others are eaten by birds due to lack of market. He says that hawkers in the cities and towns used to take the biggest percentage of their harvest but they can no longer access their gardens because of the lockdown.

Asiimwe says that this has also led to the reduction of the price of grapes from Shs4000 a Kilogram to between Shs1500 and Shs2000. He says that as an association they are likely to lose 20-30 tons, which will cost them more than Shs50 million.

Asiimwe wants the government to support the small cottages producing wine to absorb most of their produce.

Ham Ahimbisibwe, a grape farmer says much as grape farming is a lucrative venture they are also facing challenges of pests and diseases.

Brig. Gen. Martin Ndede Ndyanabo, another grape farmer, says that they lack experts on grape farming to advise them on what pesticides to use for what disease or pest.

James Karungi, a grape hawker says that he lost grapes worth Shs50,000 to security men in town and since then has not returned to business. There are over 200 grape farmers in Mbarara district.

They sell their harvest to valley wines refinery in Bushenyi, Cleptor wines in Katuru, Kamanyiro industry in Nyakayojo and Red star wines.

Asiimwe says that the factories only produce 1000liters of wine, which they get from 30 tons of grapes.

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