KAMPALA, The average Ugandan farmer loses about 30 per cent of his maize or rice crop because of poor post-harvest practices, a new survey reveals.

A 2014 baseline survey on rice farming in four eastern districts of Mbale, Butaleja, Bugiri and Iganga shows that farmers there use poor methods of threshing, storing, packaging and transporting rice. The same survey conducted in Kasese, Kibaale, Hoima and Masindi show that farmers rely on outdated practices involving shelling, drying, storing, packaging and transportation of maize.

Rice and maize are two of Uganda's most important cereals to guarantee food security and the government unveiled a new plan on Tuesday to significantly improve the production, processing and sale of the two staple crops. The new plan aims to help farmers cut post-harvest losses and increase their incomess by improving handling, storage and access to markets.

The new plan was designed by the Agriculture Ministry in collaboration with the Korean International Co-operation Agency. It will require some 180 billion shillings (about 50 million US dollars) to be rolled out to more districts over the next five years.

Maize provides more than 40 per cent of the calories consumed in both the rural and urban areas of Uganda and is a major staple food in many parts of the country because of changes in the people's eating habits while rice has become a major food security crop, as well as a cash crop, in several districts in Uganda. Rice cultivation has increased partly because of the introduction of upland rice varieties.

Rice production has increased sharply from 80,000 tonnes in 2004 to 293,193 tonnes in 2015, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.


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