Kapchorwa, Uganda – Barley growing farmers in Sebei- Sub-region are crying foul after their produce was rejected by their sole buyer, Nile Breweries Limited (NBL).
Onapito Ekomoloit, the Legal and Corporate Affairs director of NBL, said the barley was of poor quality.
“The reason we rejected their barley is because it did not match the standard we want. We cannot compromise on quality but otherwise as a company, we need much barley than the farmers can produce,” he said.
Mr Ekomoloit said the harvest did not meet the moisture content and germination capacity required.
Mr Onapito said the poor quality barley could have been caused by the weather changes and not the type of seeds, as farmers were claiming.
He, however, said they are arranging a meeting to engage the affected farmers on the way forward.
Currently, there are more than 13,000 farmers of barley in the districts of Kween, Bukwo and Kapchorwa.
Barley has two seasons, the first is March-May and second in August- October.
Each bag of 100kgs can cost more than Shs152,000.
When Daily Monitor visited Kapyoyon Farm in Kapyoyon Village in Suam Sub-county, the buying centre of barley for NBL, it found that the bags of barley that had been rejected had started rotting.
The most affected farmers are those from the sub-counties of Suam, Senedet, Chepkwasta, Kabey, Chesowel, Kamet and Kortek in Bukwo District.
Speaking during a farmers’ meeting at the farm on Tuesday, the farmers accused the company of selling to them poor seeds that are non-resistant to diseases and yielded poor harvests.
The farmers said they are disappointed because they abandoned maize farming for barley after the company promised them a ready market.
Mr Martin Cherukut, one of the farmers, said he hired about five acres to grow barley but now he is frustrated because more than 100 bags have been rejected.
“… we are now stranded and yet we have bills to pay. They gave us the seeds, we grew but now they blaming us, it’s very unfair,” Mr Cherukut said.
He said they sent their children back to school with hope that they would sell their harvest and clear school fees.
Mr Patrick Kapere, another farmer and resident of Senedet Village in Senedet Sub-county, said they invested a lot through buying inputs, machinery and pesticides.