Barley growing farmers in Sebei- Sub-region are crying foul after their produce was rejected by their sole buyer, Nile Breweries Limited (NBL).
Mr Onapito Ekomoloit, the Legal and Corporate Affairs director of NBL, said the barley was of poor quality.
“The reason we rejected their barley is because it did not match the standard we want. We cannot compromise on quality but otherwise as a company, we need much barley than the farmers can produce,” he said.
Mr Ekomoloit said the harvest did not meet the moisture content and germination capacity required.
Mr Onapito said the poor quality barley could have been caused by the weather changes and not the type of seeds, as farmers were claiming.
He, however, said they are arranging a meeting to engage the affected farmers on the way forward.
Currently, there are more than 13,000 farmers of barley in the districts of Kween, Bukwo and Kapchorwa.
Barley has two seasons, the first is March-May and second in August- October.
Each bag of 100kgs can cost more than Shs152,000.
When Daily Monitor visited Kapyoyon Farm in Kapyoyon Village in Suam Sub-county, the buying centre of barley for NBL, it found that the bags of barley that had been rejected had started rotting.
The most affected farmers are those from the sub-counties of Suam, Senedet, Chepkwasta, Kabey, Chesowel, Kamet and Kortek in Bukwo District.
Speaking during a farmers’ meeting at the farm on Tuesday, the farmers accused the company of selling to them poor seeds that are non-resistant to diseases and yielded poor harvests.
The farmers said they are disappointed because they abandoned maize farming for barley after the company promised them a ready market.
Mr Martin Cherukut, one of the farmers, said he hired about five acres to grow barley but now he is frustrated because more than 100 bags have been rejected.
“... we are now stranded and yet we have bills to pay. They gave us the seeds, we grew but now they blaming us, it’s very unfair,” Mr Cherukut said.
He said they sent their children back to school with hope that they would sell their harvest and clear school fees.
Mr Patrick Kapere, another farmer and resident of Senedet Village in Senedet Sub-county, said they invested a lot through buying inputs, machinery and pesticides.
The NBL also supports the farmers of barley with subsidised inputs, organises workshops to equip them with skills and knowledge in producing quality barley.
Mr Moses Batya, another farmer from Kabereto Village, Kaptererwa Sub-county, said this is the biggest frustration they faced since they started growing barley four years ago.
“The company sold to us fake seeds and the yields were poor. They should compensate us,” he said.
Mr Rogers Chepkwutwo, the agricultural Officer of Bukwo District, asked government to intervene and find market for their produce before it is too late.
Mr Chepkwutwo said Sebei Elgon Cooperative Society should come in and set conditions for the company so that they are not exploited.
Mr Franklin Kitiyo, the district production Officer, said they were going to write to the company to find a solution.
“We are going to write to the company to see the way forward because for sure farmers need to be helped,” he said.
Harvest and grain quality. Maintaining the quality of grain that has been grown is all about the correct and timely harvesting of the grain and its management and storage once removed from the paddock.
The harvesting operation is crucial in determining the grain yield and quality of barley.
For malting barley, unless the grain has a germination percentage above 98 per cent, is not suitable for sale to maltsters.
Factors. Skinning the grain due to over threshing, storing wet due to harvesting high grain moisture without aeration or drying to temperatures above 43°C all contribute to the reduction in the quality of barley for use in the malting and brewing industry.
and in the feed industry. Because of this, the potential for a premium price and the possibility of head loss or weather damage means malting barley should be harvested as soon as the crop is at a moisture content that is suitable for storage.