Farmers want no taxes on post-harvest handling equipment: Ugandan farmers under their Umbrella organization, Uganda National Farmers Federation have asked government to remove import duties and other taxes on post-harvest handling equipment and facilities.
The president of the farmers’ federation Dr.Dick Nuwamanya Kamuganga said the removal of taxes will make equipment and facilities more affordable hence they will be easily accessible and as a result will solve the problem of poor post harvest handling by famers which is a big challenge in the country .
“The quality for some of our Agricultural produce especially grain is wanting; the problem is associated with poor post-harvest handling. Many of our farmers lacks modern post harvesting handling facilities not because they wish but due to the cost implication associated with them. For farmers to improve on post-harvest handling government need to come in by removing taxes imposed on the facilities,” Kamugunga told Journalist at the federation’s head offices in Kampala.
Currently very few farmers have access to value addition equipment and facilities such as post harvesting due to the high costs on the market because government taxes both VAT and import duty which makes the facilities expensive and inaccessible by famers and traders.
He explained that compromising quality of the Uganda grain especially maize results to failure of such products to penetrate the markets in the region especially in the East Africa.
“Kenya used to be the leading destination for Ugandan maize but the country is shifting the market to other countries such as Malawi; Tanzania; and Zambia because of good quality. Government must put in strict measures to ensure quality of our produce, we are likely to continue being considered last in the supply of produces, like maize,“ He explained.
The farmers are advising government to review the free market economy policy like what other countries have done by setting up minimum farm gate. The president explained that Whereas Uganda’s economy is a liberal one, it is vital that a minimum price should be set below which no one is allowed to buy agricultural produce in the country from farmers because this will help farmers to recover their investments .
“The price should be arrived at in a transparent manner with consultations with farmers. Technical people and buyers , so that a farmer can breakeven and recover the production costs but also make some profit from their sweat . Unless this is done farmers will most likely abandon maize production yet maize has been found to be promising enterprises “He added.
The National publicity Secretary for the federation Grace Musimami at the same event also noted that government should implement the recently launched Grain Trade policy to ensure proper post harvesting handling and structured marketing of grains for domestic consumption as well as for export market . This will increase competitiveness of Ugandan grains in the regional and International markets respectively.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO