Thursday, July 8, 2010

Uganda: WFP Installs Grain Preservation Gear

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has begun installing cleaning and drying equipment in nine public warehouses. The project, which is valued at $2.4m (about sh5b), targets warehouses that use the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS).

WRS allows farmers to keep their produce in the warehouses to wait for attractive prices. The produce is valued by the warehouse managers and farmers provided with receipts worth their grain value.

Receipts can be presented to the bank as collateral security in case the farmer needs a loan before the grain is sold. The system helps farmers enjoy large economies of scale because the pooled produce boosts their bargaining power.

The WFP said it was important to find ways of keeping the stored produce without losing quality, adding that it would install the equipment at subsidised costs.

The system provides small-holder farmer groups with cleaning, drying, grading and bagging services and large and safe storage space.

"The exercise started in Gulu and is ongoing in other parts of the country" said WFP country director Stanlake Samkange.

Cleaning and drying equipment has been installed at a 6,000 metric-ton capacity warehouse in Gulu town to be commissioned in the coming months, he added.

The system will enable smallholder farmer groups in northern Uganda to benefit from the agency's grain purchases as the region seeks to recover from over 20 years of the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency.

Installations are also taking place in Tororo before moving on to Kasese, Soroti, Kapchorwa and Masindi towns.

Lango, Busoga and Buganda regions will also benefit.

"Often, small-holder farmer groups have poor quality grain, which cannot bring them a good price. This is because they lack access to modern equipment for cleaning and drying their produce," Samkange added.

Under its Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, WFP links small-holder farmer groups to quality grain markets.

P4P involves constructing, renovating and equipping warehouses, constructing or repairing feeder roads, supporting training in post-harvest handling and value addition, and buying more food varieties in impartial ways including direct purchases and the warehouse receipt system.

The United States Agency for International Development is P4P's largest funder in Uganda. Its involvement is in line with the Obama administration's new global hunger and food security initiative.

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