More than 2000 maize farmers from eight districts marched to the parliamentary buildings today to petitioned the Speaker of the House over the fluctuating prices of maize.
Handing over the petition today, the Rwimi sub-county LC 3 Chairman, Abel Ngomayondi, said the farmers want a Maize Regulatory Authority to standardize the production and sale of maize in Uganda. He said the farmers are concerned that government has left maize production to be regulated by market forces despite the fact that maize is one of the main sources of income for farmers in the country.
Ngomayonde said the proposed Maize Regulatory Authority would ensure good quality maize supplies and intervene in case of price fluctuations. He said in the absence of national strategic reserves, and a lack of bargaining power has made maize farmers in Uganda vulnerable to exploitation.
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Cue out: i# for every thing.i//
The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, promised to hand over the petition to the parliamentary sessional committee on trade for scrutiny before he can make recommendations to government.
The maize farmers' petition was supported by the Oxfam Make Trade Fair lobby.
A statement from Oxfam notes that maize is one of the most important non-traditional agricultural export commodities in Uganda, providing a living for an estimated two million households. As an export, maize contributes about 10 percent of the value of agricultural exports and also takes up the largest share of non-traditional agricultural exports after fish.
According to Oxfam, during the liberalization of the agricultural sector, the speed at which the economic reforms were implemented did not take into consideration the weak legal and regulatory frameworks to support maize farmers. As a result, maize prices are down to between 80 and 100 shillings per kilo from between 300 to 500 shillings before liberalization. The real annual income of households producing maize as their chief source of income has fallen to 55,600 shillings form 199,000 shillings.