Chia farmers stuck with produce since 2019

1
Chia farmers stuck with produce since 2019
Chia farmers stuck with produce since 2019

Africa-PressUganda. At least 1,000 chia farmers in Gulu District are still struck with their harvest since 2019, Daily Monitor has learnt.

Between 2018 and early 2019, UN Women and Gulu District local government partnered to boost chia farming aimed at improving the livelihoods of women in the area.

The Shs1.23b project was aimed at empowering more than 2,000 farmers in Patiko, Palaro, Unyama, Paicho and Awach sub-counties.

According to the agreement, UN Women would supply the farmers with chia seeds, tarpaulins and threshing machines for drying and sorting the chia harvests. However, two years later, some farmers are yet to sell their stock under the initiative.

Ms Charity Amono, who planted nine acres of chia, at the weekend told Daily Monitor that she has not received any supported as promised in the agreement.

Ms Amono said together with two other women, they collectively planted 20 acres of chia in Cetkana Village in Atiaba Parish, Awach Sub-county but got only 20 bags.

“We harvested 20 bags only because others got wasted in the garden. The machine they gave us for harvesting broke down. The entire harvesting process went wrong,” Ms Amono said.

She added that the group spent Shs200,000 hiring an acre of land while she also spent another Shs1.8m to hire nine acres of land, which costs do not include ploughing, planting, weeding and transport.

While being mobilised to grow chia, the farmers said, UN Women promised them Shs6,000 for a kilogramme of chia upon harvest. However, the only support the farmers have received includes seeds and threshing machines.

“When the chia was ready, the seed suppliers sneaked in and started buying the produce at Shs1,000 per kilogramme while others took the produce on credit and are yet to pay,” Ms Amono revealed.

Mr Michael Omara, a farmer in Omel parish in Paicho Sub-county, said least 100 farmers in his area planted more than 100 acres of chia under the UN Women project.

“Every individual received seedlings but were told we would sell the produce as a group. I planted two acres and got 18 bags in harvest but have only sold two bags,” Mr Omara said.

He added that they have resorted to using the chia to feed chicken. “It frustrated us a lot because this thing [chia] cannot be eaten like other food stuff,” he said.

Ms Jennifer Auma, coordinator of Oruu ki ta, a 30-member group, said they are still waiting for the buyers.

“We had to look for buyers ourselves and they came from Pader. However, they bought the chia for Shs900 and at most Shs1000. Farmers who did not get buyers got angry and poured their chia. Others gave them away, freely,” Ms Auma said.

Ms Auma said the residents of Paicho Sub-county harvested an estimated 25 tonnes of chia but the buyers from Pader District took only four tons.

However, Ms Rose Amono Abili, the former secretary for production and marketing at Gulu District local government, said when she was appointed in 2019, the farmers already had the chia in their stores.

Ms Abili said she only met the chia growers once, but registered complaints from them that their produce had taken months in stores yet they were yet to see the promised buyers.

“Unfortunately when we were to settle and start seeking a market as the production department of the district, Covid-19 broke out and movement was restricted and crippled our efforts just like UN Women in their report to us.

Quality issue

Ms Innocent Piloya, who buys and processes chia said Germany, one of the biggest importers of Ugandan chia, rejected the product over quality issues.

The bulk importers reportedly rejected Uganda chia, after they found traces of a chemical they did not recommend, and banned the importation in Uganda in 2019, she said. To meet the foreign demands, she said she has restricted her purchase to not more than 10 kilogrammes since the chia is impure and takes a lot of time to sort them.

Promise

While being mobilised to grow chia, the farmers said, UN Women promised them Shs6,000 for a kilogramme of chia upon harvest. However, the only support the farmers have received includes seeds and threshing machines.

[email protected]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here