UGANDA – Uganda’s local content policy has played a significant role in boosting grain trade as a result of increased volumes of grain bought locally, improved value for farmers and high quality grain, the East African has reported.

Local content policy aims to improve production jobs, incomes while unlocking the potential of agriculture which contributes about 20% to Uganda’s gross domestic product.

According to World Food Programme (WFP) country director El Khidir Daloum, the organisation spent about US$30 million per year buying grain locally since 2015.

Last year, WFP bought 100,000 tonnes of grain valued at US$42 million compared to 126,000 tonnes worth US$50 million back in 2016.

More local purchases expected

Volumes are expected to rise this year after WFP purchased 98 tonnes of high quality maize from Karamoja, an area fond of drought and famine attributed to long dry spells.

By the end of the year, volumes are expected to be higher than last year’s as for the first four months the relief agency bought 69,000 tonnes worth US$19 million.

State Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Musa Ecweru said the decision by humanitarian agencies to purchase locally lied on the basis of the local content policy.

The agency requires more food and funding to support the influx of refugees into the country, something that will likely push up its budget covering more relief food.

Until 2015, WFP required US$250 million worth of cereals annually.

Apart from local sourcing, WFP imports grain and other food items from Brazil, Malawi, Zambia.

Improved yields and volumes are attributed to a campaign started in 2014 to train farmers on post-harvest handling in order to reduce losses.

The training include storage in airtight silos to reduce impact by insects and rodents, drying and proper bulking for sale.

Efforts to improve grain handling and storage together with transport infrastructure has reduced food losses from over 40%, as well as ensured high quality grain, preferred by WFP.