Rice dealers in Hoima are experiencing low business after the price dropped drastically this year compared with last year.
The dealers say the low price and low demand has slowed down business led to small profits and thus, affecting business transaction.
Mr Moses Bahemurwaki, a rice dealer at Nyati Rice Millers in East Division, Hoima City says the price of rice has dropped at farm gate and local and national markets, attributing it to the global outbreak of coronavirus that disrupted the demand and supply of food stuffs worldwide.
He says since the lockdown was imposed to slow the transmission of Covid-19, economic activities have slowed down in various geo-political economies, thus, affecting the businesses all over the world with the agriculture sector most affected.
Mr Bahemurwaki also blames the government of Uganda for being less considerate to the agriculture sub sector yet it employs the biggest number of the population in the country.
He says in 2020, a sack of rice cost Shs130,000 in the village while today it is at Shs85,000 as a kilogramme ran at Shs2,800 in the city while today it is at Shs1,800.
“Of course coronavirus has affected us, transport charges are high and people fear to travel in order not to catch the disease but the government has done little to improve agriculture. It injects a very small percentage of its funds into the sector yet majority of Ugandans depend on agriculture for economic survival. Such lack of seriousness could be intended so that the person at a lower level can keep lagging behind. Without value addition to our rice, it means we have to suffer,” he says.
Mr Bahemurwaki says compared with last year when traders used to come from Kampala flocking Hoima to buy rice, this year-the matter is different.
“The price of rice has this time dropped compared with last year. Last year, Baganda used to come and buy our rice. But currently, dealers are the ones consuming the rice that they are buying from villages. This is because rice is now being grown in many places in Uganda, thus, lack of enough buyers”.
He adds that: “We are encountering some problem. Rice in villages is less costly with a sack going at Shs85,000 yet here in the city it has very low demand. Farmers in the village have now decided not to sell their rice. This means purchasing small amount of rice and when transported to the city, you get small profits since the consumption rate of rice among the people of Hoima is low.
Ms Norah Manyire, who deals in rice, beans and maize at Kiryateete produce stores in East Division, Hoima City says the closure of schools due to Covid-19 has left the dealers in sheer financial anguish.
She says schools were their indispensable customers for food stuffs to feed especially boarding students.
“Lack of market has caused a fall in price of rice, beans and maize. No Muganda has this season stepped here in Hoima yet they are the ones who buy in bulk, load onto lorries and take the produce. These Baganda traders went to Busoga and other parts of Uganda yet the price there has also dropped. The problem arises from having no other markets for our produce. The schools that we used to feed were closed due to Covid-19”.
Ms Manyire continues that compared to last year; the price of rice has this year fallen drastically, thus failing to get any profits out of the sales.
“Last year, we used to sell a kilogramme of rice to retailers between Shs2,450 andShs2,500 and for them they could sell at Shs2,700 and Shs2,800 per kilogramme.