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Bean Prices Rise Across Uganda

by Wangah Wanyama
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Despite the fact that the planting season is coming to an end, the prices of beans have continued to rise across the country. Vision Reporters carried out a survey in different markets


Alex Wanasolo, a grain trader operating at Mbale Central Market, says they are running out of produce for sale due to the overwhelming demand.

“All our local and national markets do not have beans in stock,” Wanasolo says.

“The dire situation has resulted in most traders resorting to regional markets such as Tanzania,” he adds. Given the financial implications involved in cross-border trade, owing to transportation and distribution costs, Wanasolo says bean dealers have been left with no choice but to increase prices. “This is business and we need to recoup what we invest in. That is why prices keep shooting up, but still the profit margin is very minimal for us,” Wanasolo says.

Aisha Namataka, another seasoned trader dealing in grains, says although bean prices normally fluctuate based on seasonal factors such as planting and harvesting cycles, irregular pricing is to blame to a large extent.

 “Cross-border traders, for example, choose to set their own varying prices, usually undermining the local producers. That is enough to cause disruptions in the local bean supply chain, hence increased demand and reduced supply,” Namataka says. “My beans store is empty because I cannot afford to transport grains all the way from Tanzania since that calls for a lot of money,” she adds. Red beans, locally known as kanyebwa, were selling at sh2,500 per kilogramme four months ago, but have sincegone up to sh5,000.


The low supply of beans has led to a sharp rise in prices, according to Prossy Nakintu, a trader in Masuliita town, Wakiso district.

 “Beans are scarce because farmers have not yet harvested,” Nakintu says.

She says a kilogramme of short Nambaale is at sh6,000 and a week before it was at sh5,000. Another type of Nambaale beans is at sh5,800 and a week before it was at sh4,800. Other types of beans have also gone up. A kilogramme of white beans is now at sh5,600, yet a week ago it was at sh4,600. Yellow beans (1kg) is sold at sh5,400, but a week before it was at sh5,000. A kilogramme of mixed beans is now sold at sh5,000, but a week before it was at sh4,500. Florence Nakalema, one of the big traders in Masuliita town, says she stopped dealing in beans because they are scarce and expensive.


Edward Kyaligonza, a produce dealer in Masindi Central Market, says yellow beans are being sold at sh5,000 per kilogramme, while the white beans go for sh5,000 per kilogramme. He says seedbeans are hard to find on the market. Sulait Isingoma, a maize dealer, says a kilogramme of dry maize is being sold at between sh1,400 and sh1,500.


In Busia, a kilogramme of yellow beans is sold at sh4,600, Nambale (sh4,800), mixed beans (sh3,900) and Wairimu costs sh4,000. Henry Bwire, a data collector on cereals, says there is internal domestic demand for beans, Teso sub-region being the main supplier. However, beans are also coming in from Tanzania through Mutukula and Kenya to Busia. KITGUM In Kitgum market, it is not only bean prices that have shot up, but groundnuts as well. Lillian Ajok, a resident of Kitgum Mission, says groundnuts shot up from sh3,500 four months ago to sh6,000 per kilogramme. A kilogramme of beans now goes for sh6,000, up from sh2,000. Doreen Akello, a dealer in foodstuffs, says the cost of transporting a bag of beans from Lira to Kitgum has risen from sh5,000 at the beginning of the year to sh10,000 today. Akello says she used to travel to Lira twice a week to bring new stock, but now she brings it once after two weeks.


The cost of beans has doubled in less than a month in the Kigezi sub-region. Kevin Bayenda, a hotel owner in Kabale municipality, says they have been buying 10kg of beans at sh2,000 (per kilogramme) every day, but a few weeks ago, the price rose to sh5,000 and this has affected their business since customers are not willing to spend more. “A meal of beans at our hotel costs sh3,000 and now that the price of beans has doubled, it is affecting our services,” Bayenda says.


John Bosco Habimana, a produce dealer in Kisoro municipality, says he has been buying beans from farmers at sh3,000 per kilogramme and selling them at sh4,500. However, now he is getting them at sh4,500 and he sells them at sh7,000. BULIISA Ali Kwolekya, a businessman in Buliisa town, sells a kilogramme of beans at sh6,500. He says businesspeople always stock beans in stores and sell them during scarcity periods.

 “Businesspeople from Kampala buy in bulk directly from farmers, then transport the beans to South Sudan and Rwanda. This has affected the supply of beans on the local market. However, we expect harvesting to start by June 2023,” he says.

Irene Karungi, a businesswoman in Buliisa town, sells a small cup of beans at sh2,700. She says there are no beans in Kigorobya, where she always buys from. KIKUUBE Families that depend on beans are likely to opt for amaranth (dodo) due to the skyrocketing prices of beans in different parts of Kikuube district. Bosco Sebazungu, a resident of Waraganza trading centre in Kyangwali sub-county, says many families cannot afford to buy a kilogramme of beans, given the prevailing financial crisis. He says a kilogramme of yellow beans is at sh6,000, while that of seed beans is at sh5,000. Sebazungu says a month ago, yellow beans were at sh5,000, while the seed ones went for sh3,500. He adds that some traders get beans from Kakumiro and Kibaale districts, while others get the beans from DR Congo. Steven Kabagambe, a produce dealer from Kyarushesha in Kyangwali sub-county, says yellow beans are at sh6,000 per kilogramme, up from sh5,000 in the space of two months. A kilogramme of seed beans is at sh5,000, up from sh4,000.


Prices of beans in several stores in Hoima city have risen sharply as traders attribute it to a shortage in supply occasioned by the prolonged dry spell, which hit several areas last year. Paul Mwavu, a dealer inKityatete Upper cell, East division, says the rise in prices comes against the backdrop of a prolonged dry spell that affected the production of crops in the first farming season. Mwavu says the retail price of beans in Kiryatete is at sh5,500 per kilogramme, and that high prices have chased away customers. “We have very few customers who buy beans because of the prices. Now some of the suppliers opt to take their beans to South Sudan and Rwanda,” Mwavu adds. Joyce Mugasa, a vendor in Hoima Central Market, says the high fuel prices and bad weather that was experienced in the region have had a negative impact on transportation and production of crops, which has culminated in an increase in the prices of crops. She says as traders, they buy a kilogramme of beans from the farmers at between sh4,000 and sh5,000, yet they incur transport expenses and pay taxes.


The bad state of feeder roads in the rural areas has caused a rise in foodstuffs, especially beans and bananas in Masaka. The chairperson of Masaka Central Vendors Association, Beth Nakayiza, says the price of fresh beans has increased from sh1,000 to sh2,000 a cup. Nakayiza cited several other factors responsible for the price rise, including the heavy rains and schools stocking beans ahead of reopening of the second term. Joanita Nakalema, a trader from Masaka, says the price of beans has increased because the demand is high among domestic consumers and due to cross-border trade with neighbouring countries such as Tanzania and Rwanda.


Aisha Awebwa, a produce dealer on Kutch Road, says she was only selling yellow beans, a variety that is imported from Tanzania. In the past week, Awebwa says they were selling a kilogramme of yellow beans at sh4,300, but it has shot up to sh7,000, while a kilogramme of mixed beans is at sh4,700. At other stores, a kilo of Masavu (warid) beans has risen by sh1,000 from sh5,000. Deborah Kaudha attributed the scarcity to the season, saying they were waiting until the end of this month. Beans locally known as Kanyebwa are out of stock for the past two months, while white beans went from sh3,000 to sh4,000 per kilogramme, Nambaale (long) from sh4,500 to sh4,800; Nambaale (short) from sh4,500 to sh5,000, Masavu (warid) from sh5,000 to sh6,000. IGANGA The yellow beans, initially being retailed at sh3,500 per kilogramme, are now sold at sh7,000 at most outlets.

Kanyebwa and Nambaale are going for sh5,500, up from about sh2,500 a few months ago. Charles Kiwanuka, an urban farmer from Iganga municipality, says the current economic trends in the country and worldwide have affected food prices, including beans. LUUKA Musa Kasone, a farmer from Budooma village, Luuka district, says the heavy rains have disrupted podding, hence affecting production of beans. He says the prices may remain high for some time. KALIRO Augustine Walwawo, a farmer from Namavundu B village in Kaliro district, says the bean prices may drop once the seasonal harvest kicks off in June and markets get flooded with fresh beans. LIRA Bosco Erac, a produce dealer in Lira city, says a kilogramme of beans (mixed colour) that comes from Mutukula, Tanzania, is bought at sh3,900 and sold at sh4,000, while the K varities go for sh5,000 per kilogramme. At Lira Produce Line, the local black beans that used to cost between sh2,500 and sh3,000 a kilogramme now cost sh6,000. Patrick Okote, a produce dealer in Lira city, blamed the increasing prices on farmers, whom he says have shifted away from growing beans to sunflower and soya beans that have a ready market in dozens of oil factories in Lira city.


 Currently, beans cost sh6,000 (per kilogramme) from the sh3,500 months ago, while the mixed bean varieties from Hoima and Kisoro go for sh5,500, up from sh2,500 per kilogramme. Lillian Awaru, a produce dealer in Arua Central Market, says they have been forced to increase the prices of beans since they purchase from Kampala, Hoima, Kisoro and other parts of the country expensively, as well as expenses on transport.

 “We are buying the beans from Kampala, Kisoro and Hoima districts at an average of sh4,500 per kilogramme and they charge us a lot in transport. We have no option but to increase the prices,” she says.

 Kalsum Bako, another vendor in Arua Central Market, says she has resorted to eating green vegetables and silverfish (mukene) since beans are proving unaffordable. She says she has been buying beans at sh2,500 a kilogramme six months ago, but the price has since increased to sh5,000. SOROTI John Peter Olupot, a father of three, has stopped buying beans for his family because of the prices that have kept on going up. Currently in Soroti’s Main Market, a kilogramme of beans has risen from sh5,000 two months ago to sh5,500. “I buy meat instead of beans because they are expensive andconsume a lot of charcoal. I will resume once the prices reduce to sh3,000,” Olupot says. Joseph Eragu, another resident, has resorted to greens and fish that can be prepared easily without spending a lot on charcoal.

 “The prices went up because of the schools that have been operating. The prices will reduce once harvesting starts and that can happen in June,” Peter Egadu, a trader, says. MBARARA The high prices have been blamed on the prolonged dry spell. This has seen prices of beans shoot up from sh4,000 to sh7,500, says Phiona Birungi, a trader in Mbarara Central Market. Allen Kyasiimire, another trader, asked the Government to intervene on fuel prices, which has led to the increase in transport costs.


At Charanga Produce Enterprise in Yumbe, a kilogramme of maize grain has increased to sh2,000, up from sh1,500 in the past four months. A kilogramme of beans now goes for sh6,000, yet it was at sh4,500 in December up to March. Safi Aligo, a shop attendant at Charanga Produce Enterprise, attributes the increase in the prices to the planting seasons. He says many farmers have reserved their produce as seed for planting. Fage Afidra, one of the dealers in produce in Yumbe town, says they are selling yellow beans at sh6,000 and other colours go for sh5,500. Amidu Amaku, who works at Oyasuruku Women Produce Dealers, says a kilogramme of yellow beans is at sh6,500 and other varieties go for sh6,000.


The prices of beans around Mukono district have shot up, leaving the local people stuck. Ezra Kanyike, a shop attendant in Kiyunga trading centre, Kyampisi sub-county in Mukono district, says the bean prices rose from sh3,500 to sh6,000 in two months. Currently, he says he does not have beans. At Kisowera trading centre, Sharon Mugoda, a shop attendant, says a type of beans called Kanyeebwa costs sh5,000 a kilogramme, whereas Masavu is at sh6,000.


Pius Bitakalamire, an extension agriculture officer from Sembabule district, says the farmers in the rural areas are not benefiting from the increased prices. “The traders come complaining about the bad roads. It’s those middlemen who are making money,” he says. Nelson Adile, the Arua acting agricultural officer, attributed the price increase to the cash relief being distributed to the refugees in West Nile. He expects the prices to drop once the harvest for the first season comes on the market in July. Joel Cherop, a climate change activist, warned that if people continue degrading the environment, climate, and weather conditions such as drought, floods or pests will continue to negatively affect bean crops, leading to reduced yields and eventual higher prices. “There is a need for all of us to improve the way we interact with the environment to reduce some of these spillover impacts,” he says. Robert Wambede, the principal deputy town clerk in Mbale city, pointed at the market speculation and inflation as some of the major driving factors behind the rise in bean prices. “Speculative activities in commodity markets or even overall inflationary pressures have also caused the prices of beans, along with other goods, to rise,” Wambede says. He adds: “Some of the driving factors can be avoided, while some of them are out of our reach. So we shall consider assigning our relevant departments to take action and provide reliable and sustainable solutions.”

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