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    Communal granaries help farmers preserve produce

    Farm­ers in the de­luge prone Bunyala area of Bud­alangi who have tra­di­tion­ally lost their har­vest due to in­cess­ant floods are now as­sured of safety of their har­vests thanks to com­munity granar­ies that are built on dry areas. The granar­ies, built through pool­ing to­gether of re­sources by local farm­ers, en­sure that any­time farm­ers har­vest they place the sur­plus in the granar­ies which they can then get any­time they want for home con­sump­tion and for sale.

    Richard Uzero a maize farmer in the area and one of the first farm­ers to em­brace the com­munal granary concept knows just how im­port­ant it means to him and his fam­ily of five. Since early 90’s he has been los­ing about 60 per­cent of his sur­plus har­vest to floods. “I have a small granary in my com­pound. I har­vest around five to six bags of maize every har­vest. I lose about three of the bags to the floods be­cause by the time I pre­serve them for a big­ger mar­ket price the floods have already hit,” he said.

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    The com­munity granary built on higher dry area which is not reached by the floods has over 60 farm­ers and stocks dif­fer­ent pro­duce in­clud­ing mil­let, maize, beans and ground­nuts. The granary has a clerk who keeps re­cords of what comes in and out.

    Once a farmer brings the pro­duce, he is as­signed a spe­cific mem­ber­ship num­ber and card which lists how many bags or kilos have been brought and the date. The farmer can walk in and out any time to re­move his pro­duce but must pro­duce his mem­ber­ship num­ber and card. “This en­sures that each there is a clean sheet that mon­it­ors what comes in and out. Each farmer is al­loc­ated a space in the granary to avoid con­fu­sion. The space is clearly marked with the mem­ber’s name and num­ber,” said Ethan Njunge the chief clerk at the granary.

    Mem­bers have monthly con­tri­bu­tions of Sh250 which goes into the main­ten­ance of the granary and the pay­ment of the clerk. The granary also hosts pro­duce from farm­ers who are non mem­bers but who are charged Sh500 per month to be al­loc­ated space. “Already we have 12 non mem­bers who we are hous­ing,” said Vic­toria Auma the sec­ret­ary of the or­gan­iz­a­tion.

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    A study con­duc­ted by Farm Bulb In­ter­na­tional, a not for profit or­gan­iz­a­tion work­ing with small­holder farm­ers across Africa found out that small­holder farm­ers who had in­ves­ted in the com­munity granar­ies had man­aged to in­vest upto 40 per­cent of their yields. “This is not just through sav­ing the pro­duce from floods but is al­low­ing them to pick higher mar­ket prices at a later date when de­mand is high.

    That has been one of the biggest in­come gen­er­at­ors for house­holds around here. One farmer man­aged to make Ssh10,000 extra than he would have if he didn’t in­vest in the granar­ies,”said Maria Koba a pro­gramme of­ficer with Farm Bulb In­ter­na­tional.

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