Cocoa farmers decry crop theft as prices rise

The chairman of the Jinja Cocoa Growers Association, Mr Michael Zagenda (3rd L), shows the assistant special presidential adviser, Mr Katenda Luutu (in yellow tie), and other guests around his cocoa farm in Ndiwansi village in Jinja last Friday. PHOTO BY Abubaker Kirunda

JINJA. Cocoa farmers in Jinja District have decried the upsurge in cases of theft of the crop.
Mr Michael Zagenda, the chairman Jinja Cocoa Growers Association, which brings together approximately 500 cocoa farmers in the district said cases of theft increased after prices for the cocoa beans shot up from Shs3,400 to Shs6,400 per kilogramme.
Speaking on Friday in Ndiwansi village in Butagaya Sub-county during a meeting organised by the State House-based Union of Development Organisations (UDO), which mobilises locals for development; Mr Zagenda said farmers have been counting losses since the prices went up.
“The rise in prices was sweet music to the ears, but we have not known any peace. Thieves invade our gardens at night and harvest the premature crop. We are counting losses by the day,” said Mr Zagenda.
Addressing the UDO team led by the assistant special presidential adviser, Mr Katenda Luutu, Mr Zagenda called for intervention, saying the thieves are frustrating the fight against poverty.
“We are happy that UDO has travelled with a person who advises the President. Please help us and tell the President that we need government intervention in this worsening situation,” Mr Zagenda said.
Butagaya LC3 chairman Abdallah Suuta advised the farmers to form village security committees to fight the thieves.