Support teachers, farmers in lockdown

Tuesday July 14 2020

Primary school teachers Alex Tumwes

Primary school teachers Alex Tumwesigye (left) and Mr Ivan Muwanguzi (2nd left) make coffins at their workshop in Namutumba Town Council, Namutumba District, on Friday. PHOTO/RONALD SEEBE 

By Editor

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, goes the saying with an aim of encouraging optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune.

Lemons are bitter; making lemonade is turning them into something positive or desirable. And this is exactly what farmers in Rakai District, western Uganda and some teachers across the country have done.

We reported in yesterday’s edition that farmers in Rakai are all smiles after they devised means of adding value to the excess matooke produce to avoid losses.
One of such farmers is Ms Hasifah Ariniitwe, a prominent farmer with a huge matooke farm in Rwabaganda Village, Kyarurangira Sub-county in Rakai, who has been selling her matooke at a giveaway price.

For the most part of lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, many farmers across the country have got stuck with their produce due to lack of market and excess produce.
Consequently, the prices have reduced significantly with a bunch of matooke going for as low as Shs3,000 down from Shs25,000.

Today, Ariniitwe with a host of other farmers, are turning the bananas into flour, which is packaged and sold at a higher price and, therefore, stay longer.

In the same way, we also documented the plight of teachers from private schools and what they have gone through during the lockdown.

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Because government closed schools in March as a way of preventing the spread of coronavirus, it meant that many private schools lost income, which is got from school fees. As such teachers have gone for months without pay.

Some teachers have been jolted from the forced holiday into making ends meet through farming, baking mandazi, making coffins, and doing all manner of work to earn. In one of President Museveni’s addresses, he asked schools and some other groups to register so that help would be extended to them.

The creativity by farmers in Rakai and the industriousness of some teachers as seen in the two stories, need to be propped up. The government should not look on as prices of agriculture produce dip when some have shown they can have Plan B.

The government should not also ignore the hustle teachers, among others, are putting in to provide for their families.

We suggest that from the money government has been given from all sources, such people are grouped and given help to support their income generating activities or to start up some other projects. We have seen cases of private schools asking government to pay salaries for their teachers, which government said was not viable.

Now, here is where the help is needed. Cushion these teachers and farmers.

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