MUSANZE - A four-day regional conference of farmers and researchers from the Great Lakes region, began Tuesday, in Musanze town with participants calling for harmonisation of prices of agricultural products.
The meeting was convened to discuss opportunities, challenges and ways of conducting joint research in agriculture and agribusiness.
Over 160 participants from the region are attending the meeting organised by the association of farmers in the Northern Province, Urugaga Imbaraga.
According to Paul Munyakazi, the association’s president, the conference will enable farmers to share experiences in Irish potato growing, trade, and the existing problems, especially within cross border potato trade.
International experts from two agricultural based organisations in Holland, AGRITERRA, and AGRICO, will also present their experiences in improving the quality of potatoes, and new varieties and cultivation practices.
‘’We are looking for a sustainable solution to tricky challenges of potato industry especially in transformation, and commercialisation of potato production in this sub-region,’’ Munyakazi said.
Participants recommended a regional collaboration to harmonise prices for agricultural products, sharing technology and carrying out joint research on issues such as seedling production.
‘’When the yields increase, the prices drastically reduce, how do we balance this, the brokers determine the prices and the farmers have no say. This is a general problem,’’ said Joseph Gafaranga, a farmer in Musanze.
Farmers from the region cited lack of storage facilities for their potato produce as well as lack of improved seeds and early harvesting of the Irish potatoes, as some of their major challenges they face.
Samuel Mwawura, a researcher from Uganda’s Makerere University observed that farmers should have dialogue with brokers on marketing, transportation and package costs to have a common price tag.