Why Strong Farmer Groups are Ideal in the Marketing of Rice in Eastern Uganda
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Avenues for marketing rice in three districts of Butaleja, Tororo, and Bugiri in Eastern Uganda are studied based on data collected from a community and market survey. Survey results reveal that majority of farmers sell their rice to traders and middlemen, followed by processors and individual consumers. Consistently, relatively high prices are earned when rice marketing is undertaken in groups across all the three districts, and premium prices are realised from improved rice varieties like WITA9 grown by only 26 percent of the farmers. This demonstrates proof that there are income benefits from economies of scale in rice marketing that accrue to farmers that opt to market their rice as a group. However, the majority (over 79%) of farmers still operate as individuals. The study establishes that there are overriding considerations at community level (like urgent need to offset personal needs, lack of information, and limited group storage infrastructure) that weaken farmer groups for bulk marketing, hence sending farmers to operate as individuals. This leads to loss of farm income, and keeps farmers perpetually in poverty; and makes the case stronger to expedite the implementation of government projects such as the “produce storage facilities development project”, spelt out in the Second National Development Plan (NDP II) in the predominately rice growing Eastern Uganda. The findings further strengthen the case for reviving farmers’ cooperative societies in the country.