Musiime Else Nalongo from Nakitolo Bakyala Tukole Women’s Group has been growing vegetables like Nakati, eggplants and tomatoes. For food, she grows bananas, sweet potatoes and coffee.
However, for commercial purposes, she has been focusing on tomatoes and Nakati.
To market her produce, she has been visiting weekly markets, organizers of events and parties and restaurants around Mityana for the leafy vegetables, while for tomatoes, she has been depending on buyers who visit different farms using motorcycles.
Although she was earning some money from the venture, she has been faced with challenges such as prolonged drought, which affects the vegetables, pests and diseases, and then lack of market especially for tomatoes, because all farmers in her area tend to grow tomatoes at the same time.
However, this is no more, after her group, composed of 20 farmers, signed a contract with a buyer with Selumu 2018 Merchandise Limited, who will buy farmers vegetables like Nakati, buuga, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, pepper at the prevailing market price.
Other groups that the buyer will be getting the vegetables from include Youth of God Nakitolo, Bagala Alina Women’s Development Group and Alinyikira Kito Development Group.
Under the agreement, the buyer will advise farmers on the type of vegetables on demand at a particular time of the market, pay the groups for what is supplied to him in time, in addition to providing feedback in case of chemical residues among others.
On their part, the women groups will have to produce quality vegetables and supply the agreed-upon quantities among others.
The arrangement between the buyer and farmers was made possible through the Korea Environmental and Agriculture Development Initiative, which promotes sustainable farming practices for increased household incomes in the wake of harsh climatic changes like prolonged drought.
To ensure that the women groups being supported by the project produce the required quantities, the project has secured one acre for each group, provided each group with a greenhouse, water supply system for irrigation and continuous production in addition to continuous training in the best vegetable farming practices among others.
While witnessing the signing of the contracts, the Mityana District Agriculture Officer, Dr Ronald Mpungu, said the initiative is introducing contract farming, which will help farmers produce with an assured market in mind.
“The practice is introducing contract farming, which will help the community realise value for money if they honour their obligations of quality and quantity.
“With a contract farmers learn the importance of beating targets, but are also assisted to sort out market challenges, if it works out, we shall incorporate it in the implementation of the Parish Development Model,” said Mpuugu.
On his part, the managing director of Selumu 2018 Merchandise Limited, Abel Mukasa advised farmers to desist from using agrochemicals that could compromise the quality of their products.
“We mainly supply embassies, who are too sensitive to chemical residues, I hope the women will take the training on the entire process of vegetable production seriously for the vegetables to be marketed for all of us to benefit because the market is available but there is a limited supply,” said Mukasa.