Cocoa prices triple in Busoga

A cocoa farmer removes beans from Cocoa pods in Mayuge District in March, 2024. PHOTO/ABUBAKER KIRUNDA

What you need to know:

  • Prices have surged due to heightened international demand for cocoa products.

Farmers in Busoga Sub-region are rejoicing after the prices of cocoa tripled in the past months.
The prices rose from Shs8,000 last year to between Shs27,000 and Shs31,000 this year in various districts.

The development has excited farmers who have in the past complained about the low cocoa prices.

The chairperson of the Jinja District Cocoa Growers Association, Mr Michael Zagenda, said the prices have almost tripled in Jinja District.

“I have been growing cocoa since 1968 when I was just 15 years old but my cocoa has never been bought at such good prices,” he said.

“Last year it was between 8,000 to 8,500 per kilogramme of cocoa beans, but shot up to between Shs26,000 and Shs27,000,’’ he said.

Mr Zagenda, also a cocoa farmer at Ndiwansi Village, Butagaya Sub-county in Jinja District, attributed the high purchase prices to the high demand for its products on the international market.

Ms Sarah Nabirye, another farmer in Jinja District, said the prices of cocoa beans should increase more to meet the high costs of production.

“We want the prices to increase up to Shs40,000 per kilogramme because we incur a lot of expenses in planting and harvesting. The people we hire to weed, harvest, and dry the cocoa beans also charge us a lot of money,’’ she said.

Mr George Bogere, the chairperson of the cocoa farmers in Kamuli District, said a kilogramme of Cocoa beans now costs Shs20,000 down from Shs8,000 last year. 

Mr Bogere said many people are now joining the association to grow cocoa.

“Due to high purchase prices, many farmers have now resorted to cocoa growing. This crop is good because it encourages the growth of other crops within the same garden,’’ he said.

The Senior Agricultural Officer for Mayuge District, Mr Emanuel Waiswa Kawuzi, said a kilogramme of dry fermented cocoa beans costs Shs31,000.

“The reason is attributed to the increased consumption of cocoa products internationally like chocolate, cocoa butter, and cocoa milk. The price has increased from between Shs6,000 and Shs8,000 last year to Shs31,000 this year,’’ he said.

Mr Kawuzi, who is also a cocoa growing trainer, said the high prices have increased cases of theft of cocoa pods.
He also expressed concern over the shortage of cocoa beans because of the high demand.

“The demand is higher than supply, we encourage more farmers to embrace cocoa growing. As a district, we are doing whatever is possible to increase production,’’ he said.

Mr Kawuzi said they have limited access to extension services to guide farmers, adding that cocoa is a highly specialised enterprise.

He also called for a national regulatory framework such as the Coffee Act which guides production and marketing.

“We are faced with several challenges at the farm level where farmers are not regulated even if a farmer doesn’t ferment their cocoa, it will find its way to market, and both the quality and the prices are compromised,’’ he said.

Mr Kawuzi said the government should set up a special fund for cocoa so that it can generate more export revenue. 

He said they need an independent body such as the Cocoa Industry Development Organisation to scale up production and also spearhead its legal framework.

Mayuge is one of the districts with the biggest number of cocoa farmers in Busoga with more than 12,000 farmers, followed by Jinja and Kamuli.