1. Uganda: Group marketing restores farmer profits after conflict (LEISA Magazine – Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture)

| December 15, 2008

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The Moyo district of Uganda lies in the country’s northwest, along the Sudanese border. For years, the people of Moyo coped with the realities of two conflicts. Refugees from Sudan’s civil war flooded into the area. At the same time, local Lord’s Resistance Army activities made road travel perilous. But now that peace has returned to southern Sudan and the risk of violence northern Uganda has lessened, Moyo’s farmers are once again reaping the benefits of their location.

Groundnuts, onions, cassava, beans, sorghum, and other vegetables grow in the fields of Moyo. Most farmers produce just enough food for their families, and, until recently, there was no ready market to sell a surplus. This season, groundnut and onion farmers re-established local and Sudanese networks and coordinated their marketing efforts. The result was better profits.

Betty Jurugo is one of the groundnut farmers who took part in the group marketing scheme. It began with a few local farmers gathering information on farmers who grow groundnuts – their location, and the quantity and varieties they grow. Meanwhile, the Netherlands Development Organization established links with traders, and the Ugandan government’s National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) negotiated with the traders. Traders agreed to pay a better price for the groundnuts if farmers could deliver them to a single location for pick-up.

Ms. Jurugo and other farmers from two Moyo sub-districts brought their groundnuts to a central location, where each farmer’s harvest was weighed on a scale. More than 20 tonnes were gathered. On a designated day and location, middlemen came to purchase the groundnuts, preferring red groundnuts for the local market. Farmers received 700 Ugandan shillings (about 35 American cents or 0.25 Euros) per kilogram, 20 per cent more than they would have received if they had sold to traders individually.

Onion farmers took a similar approach, with the support of NAADS. A small committee of farmers took the lead in identifying markets and checking prices at each, while others identified the area’s onion farmers and informed them of prices and demand. The town of Nimule, across the Sudanese border, was identified as representing the best marketing opportunity.

The farmers took their onions to the designated location. The onions were cleaned and sorted, and the weight of each farmer’s load recorded. NAADS obtained clearance to export the onions. They were sold in Nimule in just two days. Each farmer received 1,200 Ugandan shillings (about 60 American cents or 0.45 Euros) per kilogram.

Participating onion farmers said that they earned a higher profit, saved time, and learned from each other. Encouraged by this marketing success, they plan to increase production next season.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on group marketing