By Lauben Rugyendo
Farmers in Ntungamo district are stuck with their onions following a bumper harvest.
The farmers in the sub-counties of Kayonza,Rugarama,Rubaare and town councils of Rwentobo-Rwahi and Rubaare are prominent for onion growing and the proceeds from the business have for years played a vital role in supporting the developed of the areas in question.
Currently the farmers are stuck with the produce with the farmers unable to sell off their onions as well as failing to preserve the onions so that they can have a long shelf life.
A sack of onions (100 kilograms) which used to go for between 300,000 to 500,000 now goes for between 80,000 to 100,000 shillings while a kilogram now goes for between 800 to 1000 shillings.
A deafening stench of rotting onions welcomes you to the trading centers of Rwahi, Rubaare,Rwentobo,Katerero and Rwamanyonyi.
Julius Kangume a farmer says that he had planted three acres of onions and was hoping that the proceeds from the harvest will help him to repay his loans and also support his family during Christmas and the new year.
He however says that he had to sell off some of the onions at a giveaway price after they started rotting due to overgrowing in the garden.
Nicholas Asiimwe Mwamba the local council three chairperson for Rwentobo-Rwahi town council says that the situation is challenging. He says that farmers have abandoned the onions in the gardens while others decided to sell them off at the lowest prices so that they can raise some money for planting the next season.
Jackson Mugume a resident of Kijubwe parish in Kayonza sub county says that the heavy rains had raised their hopes that the good yields would be a blessing. Mugume says that his hopes have however vanished as farmers are stuck with several tons of onions with the prices falling every other day.
Idah Tushabe another farmer says that the farmers are now facing uncertainty on how to pay off the loans they acquired to buy seeds and fertilizers and herbicides.
She says that the low onion prices could be partly due to the closure of the Uganda-Rwanda border since hundreds of Rwandan nationals would visit the area to buy onions.
Sabit Rubegyemera a farmer who also doubles as a local council two chairpeople for Katooma ward in Rwentobo-Rwahi town council says that the already worse situation was worsened by the coronavirus which made things tougher. He says that the traders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Kenya all no longer visiting the area.
Fulgence Turyamuhweza another farmer says that the move by the government to regulate the operation of markets as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus has also hit them hard since the traders decided to abandon the business fearing to lose their monies.
He says that the increased cases of coronavirus have seen many people decide to abandon businesses that see them interacting with many people have hit the farmers hard and left them stuck.
Keneth Mugisha a businessman from Rwentobo-Rwahi town Council says that the demand for onions in Kampala where they usually transport it to has gone down.
He says that the demand has been going down steadily since the beginning of the lockdown and has remained low despite the lifting of the lockdown.
Ezra Aryaiyijuka the Ntungamo district commercial officer says that the absence of options for farmers to preserve the onions so that they have a long shelf life has left them stuck.
He says that the heavy rains coupled with the bumper harvests have seen onions flooding the market thus pushing up the supply while the demand is reducing.