Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Supporting Farmers

Farmers earning more from maize

4 min read
Combined seed cleaner

Combined seed cleaner increases returns for maize farmers. Photos by Roland D Nasasira

By Fred Muzaale
After harvesting, many maize farmers sell the product in its grain form. By selling it as grain, middlemen pay them between Shs300 and Shs500 per kilogramme, depending on the demand and supply on the market.
Subsequently, middlemen mill the grain into maize flour and earn more than the farmers.
However, Samuel Musoke, a maize farmer in Namataba village, Nagojje Sub-County, Mukono District has found out that he can earn twice more from his dry grain by deep frying and packing it.
He confesses, though, that he too was previously selling his grain to middlemen, who earned more than him in five minutes.
The 54-year-old Musoke has been adding value to his maize grain by frying and selling it for over 15 years.
Like Musoke, Pantaleo Abigaba Ateenyi of Pakanyi Sub-County in Masindi District has embraced value addition. Abigaba says he sells his maize to the final consumers at Shs2,000 per kilogramme.
Before 2015, Abigaba was a full-time maize farmer, he harvested his maize and dried it before selling to consumers at a small fee.
However, he switched to the new business where there is little competition after attending training at Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Lira branch.
“During the training, I was taken through how the machine works. I later bought one,” he says.
Before grinding the maize, Abigaba ensures that it is well dried, so that the moisture does not affect the machine. The recommended moisture content is 13.5 per cent.
Musoke says he supplies most of his snacks to supermarkets and schools in Kampala, Mukono, Jinja, Luweero, and Wakiso areas. “When schools are open, I make a lot of money because them the demand for the snacks is high,” he says. He uses a van to transport the product to the market. Abigaba, supplies his flour to supermarkets in major towns such as Masindi, Luweero, Bombo, Kampala and Mukono. Abigaba wholesales each 10 kilogramme bag of maize flour at Shs15,000.
Currently, Musoke employs five workers who help him adding value through boiling, frying and packaging.
Abigaba has five workers including a machine operator.
Musoke says the biggest challenge he faces is the high cost of cooking oil with a 20 liter jerry can now at Shs100, 000.
This, he says, reduces his profits. He also points out that the prices of the ingredients are ever increasing hence reducing his profit margin.
Musoke says he has been able to build a good house and also buy more land on which he has plans to grow more cassava and soybean.
Musoke who packs fried maize, says after harvesting his grain from the garden, he removes it from the cob before drying it.
When fully dry Musoke adheres to the following steps;
He puts the maize grains in a big container (100 kilogramme capacity) with water halfway, covers it and then boils for about two hours using firewood.
After boiling, it is placed on a tray in an electric drier for three hours to dry.
It is then boiled for fifteen minutes and put on a tray which has small holes to allow the oil to drain.
Once cooled, he packs it in small sachets of Shs500 and ready for sale.
In a week, Musoke says he sells about 300 kilogrammes of the snack. This, he says, encourages him to buy from other farmers to sustain his business as he cannot supply all the grain he needs.
He buys a kilogramme of dry maize grain at Shs600.
Therefore, he spends about Shs60,000 on 100 kilogrammes of grain and earns about Shs250,000 when he deducts all the costs, his profit is Shs160,000.

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