By Joshua Kato and Umar Nsubuga
It is just a few weeks remaining to the festive Christmas season. Many farmers have reared livestock successfully, while others have food crops nearly ready.
However, most of them face challenges with getting the market for their produce.
To get a good market, farmers must start looking around now.
Madina Lunkuse, a poultry farmer in Namugongo, Wakiso district, says this is where farmers from neighbouring areas gather at a common trading centre or space to sell their produce. Often, trading is done through rotations — from one location to another.
These are commonly known as obutale bwomubuulo. Across the country, every town has got these markets, and they will be open during the Christmas week.
“In this market, there are no stalls and the fees charged are minimal,” says Ibra Kizito, who operates in the weekly open market at Wobulenzi, Luwero district.
He advises farmers to identify any of the markets that will operate near them during the Christmas week in order to sell their produce. In most of these markets, there is no need for registration.
“It is now upon the farmers to identify the nearest mobile market so that they sell their produce there,” Kizito says.
Most of these markets accommodate any products; be they crops, poultry or livestock.
These are permanent markets constructed in big cities and towns that also include abattoirs for livestock. In Kampala, examples include St Balikuddembe (Owino), Wandegeya, Nateete, Nakawa, Kalerwe and Busega. Gulu, Masaka, Lira, Mbarara, Arua and Fort Portal have got such markets.
“This is where city residents buy their Christmas food,” says Sarah Namulindwa, a trader in St Balikuddembe Market.
For a farmer to sell to these large markets, they have to visit and identify their customers before they take their produce to the markets.
“Unlike the rural, mobile markets where anybody can bring their produce on market day and sell them, it is impossible to do so in the big city markets. You need a permanent stall or you should have identified a trader who will take your produce,” Namulindwa says, adding that if a farmer brings a truck of produce, he should come with others to look over the food.
“There are unscrupulous people in the markets who gather around food trucks just to steal,” she says.
If a farmer is to directly sell to the big city markets, he/she has to include transport costs and time spent bringing the products to the market.
The average cost of hiring a pickup truck for a journey of 5km is sh150,000.
“It is tiresome, but it widens the market knowledge of the farmer,” says Paul Mugabi, an agri-economist.
Mugabi explains that this helps a farmer make informed business decisions in the future.
These are in large towns and cities. They are situated in designated areas where investors rent space and set them up. Although most of the supermarkets sell processed agri-products, many of them sell fresh farm produce as well.
“Our demand increases by over 50% during the Christmas and new year season,” says Gordon Muwaya, a manager at Sunrise Supermarket in Kamwokya, Mawanda Road in Kampala.
These needs include fresh and iced livestock meats including chicken, beef, goat meat, pork, vegetables such as greens and tomatoes and fruits such as oranges and passion fruits.
He explains that for a farmer to benefit from this market, they must visit and draw up a supplier agreement with the supermarket.
“They will tell you the quantities required and when they need them,” he says.
For products such as chicken, supermarkets take the dressed ones.
“Because they have no space or time to slaughter, a farmer will be asked if they can slaughter, pack and deliver the chicken,” Muwaya says.
The quality that is delivered to supermarkets is also higher compared to what is sold in the rural or big city markets. This is mainly because supermarket consumers need ‘premium’ products compared to downtown markets.
“The other challenge is that supermarkets may not pay for the products in cash,” Muwaya says.
Social media marketing
“One of my largest markets is on social media,” says Soroti farmer Teddy Wabomba Wanzunula. She explains that whenever she has products to sell, she posts photos of them on the various WhatsApp groups on which she is a member and on her Facebook page.
“People see them from all around the country and they get in touch with me,” she says.
This is a practice that she advises other farmers to adopt. Farmers can pick the best of their products, take their photographs, and post them on social media.
Madina Lunkuse, a poultry farmer in Namugongo, Wakiso district, says these markets are predominantly found within the community and neighbourhood.
A farmer can move from house-to-house telling potential customers about the products that they have, plus the cost. It is common, for example, to see farmers selling chicken on pick-up trucks.
You can sell other products, for example, vegetables or even matooke using the same door-to-door system. You need to factor in the cost of hiring the truck, plus paying one or two people who do the actual selling.
Each of these can take between sh10,000 and sh15,000 per day. However, note that in some local councils, you may require a special licence to do so.
To find out if one needs a licence, visit the area Local Council office. Ideally, if you live in a fairly populated area, you can set up a temporary stall by the roadside during this season.
This can be used to not only selling foodstuffs, but also livestock like chicken. If your farm is located next to a busy road, then set up the stall there.
- Identify what you will sell early enough.
- Visit the market and identify your customers.
- Negotiate the possible prices with customers.
- If you need transport, book the vehicle early enough to avoid late rush.