Wednesday, May 30, 2012
WHAT HAPPENED TO UGANDA GRAIN TRADERS?
Maize exports increase 80 percent after market crash Full-Steam Ahead for Ugandan Grain Traders Challenge Uganda performed poorly in the agricultural commodities market in 1995, exporting a feeble $7.25 million—40,982 tons—of low-quality maize. “What was typical of Ugandan maize and grain then?” asked John Magnay of Uganda Grain Traders Limited (UGTL). “Shriveled, diseased, high-moisture-content, fermented, and spoiled. Train cars full of stinking, rotting maize.” Five million Ugandan farmers, 80 percent of whom owned less than five acres of land, were raising field crops like maize, beans and rice. But while the sheer number of farmers presented great potential, the farmers were scattered, unorganized and lacking in standards, inputs, markets, capital, or modern technical knowledge and tools. Most importantly, the smallholders lacked a powerful market that would buy their crops and propel their business. When the market crashed in 2001, many smallholders defaulted on loans and lost their land.