The global demand for organic foods from Uganda has increased with the organically produced foodstuffs worth at least 200 million dollars required. Uganda has one of the fastest-growing organic certified lands in Africa with over 400,000 internationally certified organic farmers, the first and second-largest certified farmers in Africa and World over, respectively. There is, therefore, the need to intensify the promotion of organic farming to meet the high demand on the international market. The practices like synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides are responsible for both new human diseases and permanent depletion of soil nutrients.
On 14th October 2020, ESAFF Uganda conducted the Market Invasion of Gulu Main Market during the celebration of the National Organic Week (NOW) 2020. This was to identify and recognize the organic market vendors, sensitize the consumers on the values and importance of organic products and to market the online market for organic agricultural products called KilimoMart Application.
The event was flagged off by Gulu main market Chairperson Mr Francis Megolonyo who appreciated ESAFF Uganda for promoting organic products in the market. He highlighted that organic products are nutritious and have high food nutrients good for health, for example, honey, millet, eggs that treat pneumonia, asthma, and other diseases. To the Chairperson, organic products fetch high profits as their products are high. He also stated that some vendors in the market are supplying organic products to Kenya.
Makeba Jennifer, the Secretary of Gulu main market, said that there is a high demand of organic products and now an egg is being bought at UGX 800 compared to the previous UGX 500, which is fetching high profits for the organic farmers. As the market leaders, they are doing their best in sensitizing the sellers on the importance of organic products to help consumers in the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases, including boosting the growth of children.
A vendor of organic agricultural products Ms Lanyero said that because of COVID-19 pandemic, the volumes of organic products that are being sold have increased. “We can now sell to about 30 consumers compared to the 10 consumers that we used to sell to before the pandemic”, she added. According to Obwong George William, his sales on local chicken have greatly increased because consumers have realized the value of local breeds.
Market vendors of organic products face challenges like lack the fridges and other equipment to keep the products safe for a long period of time. Agricultural products get spoilt as a result of the stiff competition for the customers.
Dorine Ochan, a market vendor, said that there is a need for training to be given to the consumers and small scale-farmers on organic agriculture and the importance of organic agricultural products. She added that many small-scale farmers grow inorganic products for sale and organic products for home consumption since inorganic products sells faster than organic products.
Market vendors were also taken through the KilimoMart Application that offers market for the organic agricultural products developed by ESAFF Uganda with support from IIDEA-GIZ.
The Revenue Officer of Gulu main market Mr Nono Philips said that it is sometimes hard for the consumers to identify and differentiate between organic and inorganic products hence end up buying and consuming mainly inorganic products, which are harmful to their health.
Vicky Lokwiya, Chairperson ESAFF Gulu urged the market administrators and town agents to put up separate organic stalls in Gulu main market to direct the buyers of organic products. She noted that eating inorganic products leads to contracting ulcers and diabetes. She concluded by advocating for the increase in the prices of the organic agricultural products in the market.