Over 100,000 farmers in 50 districts are to benefit from a fertiliser subsidy.
The farmer will purchase a bag of fertilisers at a reduced price.Under this arrangement, farmers will pay 65% of the total cost of the fertilisers.
That means that a bag of NPK which has been going for sh200,000, will now go for between sh140,000 and sh150,000 depending on their location.
The arrangement that will go on for the next five months was last week announced by the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) that is working together with both international and regional fertiliser distributors, through the Sustain Africa Initiative.
The initiative, according to AFAP’s country manager, Joel Kakaire, is aimed at mitigating challenges facing the fertiliser industry. The fertilisers will be accessed through agro dealers, co-operatives or farmer groups and distribution hubs, spread across different parts of the country.
According to Kakaire, like many African countries, Uganda faces a lack of affordability and shortages of fertiliser and other agriculture inputs, as the war in Ukraine disrupts global supply chains.
That is why the Sustain Africa initiative has been introduced in Uganda to increase accessibility and affordability of fertilsers up to 20,000 metric tonnes.
The targeted crops include maize, beans, Irish potatoes and rice. Kakaire said Sustain Africa is an industry-led initiative, supported by donors.
The subsidy programme in Uganda is funded by the Rabobank, Norwegian Yara fertiliser company, the Export Trading Group (ETG) and Syngenta.
Officiating at the launch of the initiative, the agriculture minister, Frank Tumwebaze, said agriculture production, which is mainly subsistence in nature was declining as a result of unpredictable weather patterns and the Ukraine war that affected the cost of fertilisers and other inputs.
In a speech read for him by commissioner John Mwanje, the minister said the month of September indicates that some parts of the country were already experiencing food shortages, and for the first time maize prices had increased tenfold from about sh200 to sh2,000 per kilogramme, which implies that there is scarcity of food.
“Emergency responses and resilient initiatives to support food are highly welcome. This subsidy will enable farmers access fertiliser so as to increase the production of food crops, thereby alleviating food security crisis,” Tumwebaze said.
The agriculture minister added that arrangements were underway to manufacture fertiliser in Tororo district.
Grain Pulse in Mukono is already producing crop specifi c fertilisers which will increase the availability of quality fertilisers in the country.
ETG’s Gilbert Kato, who is in charge of sales, marketing and agronomy, said over the last one year, the price of the most commonly used fertilisers like urea had gone up.
Success not automatic
In order to guarantee the success of the initiative, Henry Opolot Nekeleti, the commissioner and co-ordinator of the Agriculture Cluster Development Project, a World Bank-funded project in the ministry that has been supporting fertiliser subsidy, said quality, availability and quality must be addressed.
Commenting on the development, Ben Valk, global head food and agri partnerships at Rabobank, said efforts to address food insecurity had been looking at shorter response, adding that the focus would now be on longer agenda challenges, such as soil fertility, nutrition through crop diversification and the management of post-harvest losses, among others.