Farmers who supply Uganda’s biggest beer companies, – Uganda Breweries and Nile Breweries have urged government to consider re-opening bars but with strict adherence to Covid-19 standards.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, the group of farmers who locally supply barley, sorghum, maize and cassava said the value has since gone down as bars and nightclubs continue to be under lockdown.
They said that they have been earning shs95 billion annually from the breweries, adding that they have so far lost shs19 billion since March.
“Since the lockdown came into effect in March, we have continued to lose revenue at a steadily increasing pace, which is placing a strain on the livelihoods of approximately 45,000 farmers and about 225,000 dependants. Many of us have had to lay off workers like offloaders and millers, while others have been forced to abandon their grain farms altogether to find other ways of making ends meet,” said Twesiga Sosimu, the chairman, Farm Uganda Farmers’ Group.
He noted that before lockdown, over 7,000 farmers under his association were supplying 1,500 metric tonnes of cassava alone to Uganda Breweries per year, which quantity has reduced to 200 metric tonnes in 2020, leading to a loss of revenue amounting to Shs1.3 billion and still counting.
According to Twesiga, this has been the case with many other fellow farmers who supply to beer companies.
Stella Keitirima, the Director of Stella Keitirima Enterprises who is also a farmer and supplier of cassava,
sorghum and maize to the breweries decried the current condition since the announcement of the lockdown.
“With commercial farming, we too invest and plan for the long-term. We employ workers, we get loans and engage in other commitments as part of the brewing value chain that is intertwined. With the bars closed, that breakage in the value chain is being felt all the way down to the smallholder farmer and casual labourer on the ground,”Keitirima said.
The farmers say they are urging all the stakeholders to work together to strictly implement COVID-19 standard operating procedures in bars as the as the increase in consumer demand will lead to increased demand for raw materials from the farmers and in turn result in higher employment opportunities and revenues.