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Matooke prices drop from Shs 15,000 to Shs 1,000 in Ankole

A boda boda rider taking matooke to the market

A boda boda rider taking matooke to the market

The price of a bunch of matooke has fallen drastically in Ankole region in western Uganda from the Shs 15,000 in pre-lockdown period to Shs 1,000 during the coronavirus lockdown. Ankole is one of the biggest producers of matooke in the country, a food staple for the majority of Ugandans. 
 
Matooke production has over the years transformed livelihoods across the region, with more people depending on the food crop to earn a living, a story which is almost similar in the areas of Buhweju, Bushenyi, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Ntungamo Rubirizi and Rwampara, among others. 
 
But many of the farmers are now struggling as the cost of a bunch of matooke hit the lowest mark, going for as low as Shs 1,000 and Shs 2,000 from Shs 15,000 and Shs 25,000 before the lockdown which was imposed in March this year to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
 
The farmers say that although the price drops are always expected during the peak harvest season running from June to August, the drop this year is unprecedented. 

Annet Natukunda Kitende, a banana trader at Kasana market said that this is the biggest drop she has witnessed for the last four years that she has been in the business. Natukunda says that she now buys a bunch of Matooke at Shs 1,000 from the farmer and sells it between Shs 2,000 and Shs 4,000 to the final consumer. 

Edward Muheki, a farmer that owns up to 15 acres of banana plantations in Mbarara district says he has incurred losses this year than never before. Muheki, suspects that the drop was caused by effects of the COVID-19 lockdown which affected the movement of traders from other urban centres and consumption patterns among city dwellers.   

Susan Orishaba, another farmer in Bireere sub-county, Isingiro district partly blames the drop on the ban on public gatherings. She said weddings and burials used to contribute a lot to the consumption of matooke, a market which is now nonexistent.

Today, she adds, one needs to sell over 20 bunches of matooke to buy a five kilograms bag of maize flour.

"A bunch is Shs 1500, a kilo of flour is 2,500, you need to sell 10 bunches to buy a five kilograms bag of posho flour, that's how cheap the matooke is today," she said.    

Reverend Canon Godfrey Ngabirano Karitani, another farmer who owns over 30 acres in Katerera village in Rwampara district, says the number of banana traders has decreased compared to those that used to comb the villages before the lockdown.

He adds that several markets where distance traders from Kampala and South Sudan used to buy matooke from have been closed for failing to implement Covid-19 standard operating procedures.    

 
"Right now the matooke ranges between Shs 4,000 and Shs 6,000 at the village level. We don’t have a lot of people who come to buy matooke. They used to be there when there was no COVID-19. But when the markets were closed, these people do not now come. People come from Kampala at least two or three. They go around to buy matooke from farmers. That is why you find that you have your matooke but you have nowhere to sell them. The price is determined by the middlemen," he said. 

Ngabirano says farmers have to deal with the challenge of middlemen and that the current situation has given them the advantage to determine the price of Matooke from the garden 

"We have a challenge of middlemen who come and tell you a bunch of matooke is at Shs 1,000 and when he goes and he sells it at Shs 4,000, Shs 5,000, Shs 6,000. Even others go to Shs 7,000 and you find that he gets a lot of money which the farmer doesn’t get, the owner of the plantation doesn’t determine the price," he added.    

Rubirizi district commercial officer, Deo Abimpe said they are advocating for banana cooperatives so that the farmers can have one voice when determining prices.

Comments

0 #1 Sabiti 2020-07-06 17:29
Government needs to a mechanism that protects these farmers.

Not so long ago, it was the pineapple growers in Luwero and before that maize farmers! This should not be allowed to continue.

These people are feeding the country; they shouldn't be making these kinds of losses. It will be detrimental to country if they decide to abandon farming.
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+1 #2 Klaibbala 2020-07-06 20:44
Signs of a Failed State! Funny enough they call themselves Economists !! Ever Heard of Subventions ??

Governments Pump money in Farming to sustain Stability of Commodities like Meat,Edibles, Milk.etc so that Farmers are Empowered to Grow more to feed the Nation..

Uganda's Trillions Stolen Land on Foreign Accounts making those Countries Richer!!

Who invented these Creatures called Presidents with no Clue of what is Happening around them?? 2021 is around the Corner,,With or Without Chemical Elections just Vote them OUT!!
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+1 #3 kabayekka 2020-07-06 21:41
Well then who does not know that growing matooke is like growing a sweet banana!

Processing matooke into powder form is now the answer.

One believes that food technology will win in the long run whatever the politicians might want to say to win their dodgy elections.
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0 #4 kabayekka 2020-07-06 21:48
Surely no one wants to throw away good as bad food in this poor African country.

Why grow matooke for over some years and then this dodgy middle man comes along and decide the final minimum market price! Silly really.
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+1 #5 gilbert nsubuga 2020-07-07 04:32
Quoting Sabiti:
Government needs to a mechanism that protects these farmers.

Not so long ago, it was the pineapple growers in Luwero and before that maize farmers! This should not be allowed to continue.

These people are feeding the country; they shouldn't be making these kinds of losses. It will be detrimental to country if they decide to abandon farming.


This is good for the economy. Demand, supply and diversification of the economy.

This is not limited to Uganda, but widespread worldwide in all economies, except for communists.

Of course other businesses will come up to replace those which will fail. In Darwinian terms, it is natural, and known as survival of the fittest. Sad but very true.
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0 #6 Musana 2020-07-07 10:03
Is this story true? In a region where there is the Presidential Banana Initiative factory making 'Tooke' flour and other by-products?

Does that Initiative or Program know what is taking place? Can they explain this 'value addition' in view of the years they have been operating? This is below the belt for the Region and country, to say the least.
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+1 #7 Lakwena 2020-07-07 12:04
It is only in a shauriyako (to whom it may concern) republic like Uganda and/or absentee government (leaders "fighting" only for themselves) that everything; including farming or businesses are at owners risk.

In other countries, the farmers are valued because they feed employ the nation with affordable supplies and hence the government will always come to farmers (small and big) aid thru subsidies.

E.g. in Japan, because Rice is the staple food, during bumper harvest, the govt will buy the excess rice at reasonable/higher price and sells it into the Market at a lower price.

In other words, from 1986; the destruction of the Cooperatives by this regime was deliberate: to impoverish Ugandans as many as possible and turn them into "gavumenti atuyambe" beggars.
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0 #8 Lakwena 2020-07-07 12:16
Quoting kabayekka:
Well then who does not know that growing matooke is like growing a sweet banana!

Processing matooke into powder form is now the answer.

One believes that food technology will win in the long run whatever the politicians might want to say to win their dodgy elections.


Kabayekka, what happened to the Shs.10 billion "Presidential Banana Initiative Directed by a female, Reverend and Prof. from the Dept of Food Science and Technology, Makerere University?

In other words, because it was a cash cow thru which Mr. M7 and cohort funnel our tax money into his political pocket; the whole project was fake hence dead victim of one of Mr. M7/NRM's deadly corruption virus.
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0 #9 Robert Atuhairwe 2020-07-07 17:53
Covid-19 has huge lessons for all. Establish buffer funds for farmers, set up processing plants to use the surplus or preserve it for a season of scarcity, provide effective transport so that the excess is supplied to those who have nothing to eat.

Wisdom!
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