Covid-19 ate into production capacity of brewery companies by about to 50 per cent due to shortages in barley supply, according to Nile Breweries Limited.
Mr Geoffrey Ojara, the NBL agriculture team leader, said because of Covid-19 and the related lockdown, they experienced shortage in supply of barley because farmers could not access seed centres.
“During the lockdown, farmers could not come to barley centres. We had inputs at the stores [but] farmers were still sacred to collect the seeds,” he said, noting the shortage led to reduction in production volumes.
“Our production volumes dropped by over 50 per cent, [because] breweries were not able to get enough raw materials like they used to get from the farmers before Covid-19,” he said.
However, he did not indicate whether the shortage has since been sorted but bear companies had in July reported reduction in sales due to low demand and difficulty in movement of products and customers.
Mr David Cherrey, a barley farmer from Kwenutcell, Kapron sub-county in Kween District, said apart from Covid-19 related restrictions, farmers had also seen yields affected by natural calamities such as rain, which he said had reduced his production capacity from 60 kilogrammes to between 14 and 16 kilogrammes.
“The crop, which only takes three months to harvest, was affected by excess rains,” he said. Currently there are up to 25,000 farmers, of which 15,000 are involved in barley farming while 10,000 are in sorghum in eastern and south western Uganda.
NBL spends up to Shs60.7b on buying produce for bear production and, according to Mr Theunis Coetze, the NBL agro manager, the company will help barley farmers, many of whom were affected with rain during the crop cycle, through a crop insurance scheme to provide insurance of 60 per cent to barley farmers.
Some farmers, such as Mr Cherrey, have already benefited from about Shs12m reimbursement that was given to different farmers.