KYENJOJO– In a bid to create market and improve the quality of maize in Kyenjojo District and the western region at large, Banyatereza sisters have launched the construction of a maize milling processing plant in Rwibaale.
The daughters of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (DST), commonly known as Banyatereza Sisters, are a congregation founded in Fort Portal Diocese led by Bishop Francis Xavier Lacoursière.
They live in community and share their giftedness. Their principal patroness is Saint Therese of the child Jesus and they cultivate a special devotion to her and imitate her faith, love, trust, humility and spirit-sacrifice.
Sr Euphrazia Masika explains that they are in partnership with Alvan Blanch to improve agriculture in Kyenjojo and the neighbouring districts.
“As Banyatereza sisters, we thought of this project after seeing farmers in the region making losses due to the fall in maize prices last season. Maize farmers don’t have market for their harvests and the quality has also reduced,” Sr Masika explains.
She adds that the project will add value to the maize with an intention of processing, selling in and outside Uganda and that about 10,000 jobs will be created especially for the youth and women.
Mr Emmanuel Asiimwe from Alvan Blanch that is partnering with Integrated Uganda Limited in the construction of the ware houses, reveals that they will construct two warehouses for this project.
Mr Asiimwe says the plant will have a maize milling machine that can crash four tonnes of maize per hour and that by end of this year, the plant will be ready for operation.
He says it is embarrassing to find that a region which is rich in maize production consumes maize flour that is being crashed from Natete, which is more than 300 miles away and is being sold at a high price.
“Posho (maize flour) that is being sold in Kabarole is crashed from Natete in Wakiso District and sold at a high price here but in a few months from now, that is going to be history,” he says.
He adds that there is need to produce good quality maize and its products because poor quality products cannot be exported to other countries.
“In three years, Alvan Blanch is going to construct 60 factories in Uganda which can produce good quality maize products,” he says.
Why plant is important
The Kyenjojo District production and marketing officer, Mr Shem Ssekyanzi, says the district is the second leading producer of maize in the region but has been facing a challenge of low prices.
Mr Ssekyanzi says maize farmers made losses in the last season where by a kilogramme of maize still goes for between Shs100 and Shs300 which he says is very little. He says each household in Kyenjojo produces 250kgs of maize on average per season.
“In Kyenjojo [District], a total of 47,000 households (about 95,000 farmers) grow maize. Each household dedicates three to five acres of land to maize growing, which means most of them depend on it for household income,” he says.
He says last season, the district produced 10,000 metric tonnes of maize whereas Masindi District, which is the largest producer had 11,000 metric tonnes.
“As the district production office, we have requested World Food Programme to buy our maize to get increased prices,” he says.
He urges farmers to improve on the quality of maize and that this financial year, the district has received 20,000kgs of maize seeds from Operation Wealth Creation.
The Kyenjojo District chairman, Mr William Kaija, says they have been selling their maize to Kapeeka at a cheaper price while incurring transport costs, coupled with high cost of production which has been a challenge to farmers.
Ms Christine Kabahenda, a maize farmer in Rwibaale Ward, Butunduuzi Town Council in Kyenjojo District, says maize is her source of income but that when it lost market last season, she kept 2,500kgs waiting for rise in prices.
Similarly, Mr Yusuf Rwabuhoro, a maize farmer says he has kept 20 tonnes of maize because of lack of market.