By Christopher Nyeko                        

ACHOLI: A team of cultural leaders in Acholi has warned their subjects over selling their produce to the middlemen at a cheap price.

Middlemen have reportedly infiltrated the rural areas in the ten districts of Acholi including Gulu, Kitgum, Lamwo, Pader, Agago, Amuru, Omoro and Nwoya in a search of cereal and cash crops which are highly grown in the sub region.

Middlemen have been blamed on using fake weighing scales, lowering the prices of the produce when they go to the rural areas.

The middleman claims that they experience tough conditions to access the rural areas due to impassible road conditions, hence forcing them to buy their produce cheaply.

“We have learned and observed that the middlemen have infiltrated among the Acholi community and they are buying the produce using fake weighing scale” Otinga noted.

Otinga Atuku Otoo Yaya the Rwot (chief) of Lamogi clan who doubles as assistant to the paramount chief during an interview with at the Acholi palace in Bardege Layibi City Division over the weekend issued out the directives on behalf of other chiefdoms in Acholi

Otinga who talked on behalf of all Acholi chiefs disclosed that Ker Kwaro Acholi  have issued the directives to the entire homestead in Acholi guiding the subject to stop selling produce that have been harvested from the garden.

”The produce should be abundant at home for food security so that we can realise good health from eating adequate food with balanced diet,” he noted.

Otinag explained that in some parts of Acholi, the  cases of malnutrition is common due to shortage of food yet they produce adequately but due to uncontrolled selling to the middlemen, people sell off their foods hence  remaining empty handed.

The development came following the raise in case of domestic violence against women and children have been registered high especially when it approaches festive season.

Otinga said Acholi cultural norm deterred men from vending produce even though they are not entitled to open the granary but the men are doing the contrary.

The Granary for keeping harvested produce. Photo by Christopher Nyeko

Observation indicates that when it approaches festive season farmers from Acholi engage in selling their produce such as sesame, maize, cotton, millet, and peanut to enable them to raise money for buying clothes for their children.

Otinga said Acholi has been Uganda’s food basket but due to uncontrolled selling of the produce to the middlemen at cheaper price thus suffering famine in every June and July annually

He however directed the clan leaders to implement the directives by summoning the defaulter before the clan mate for the reasonable punishment as guided by the constitution of the clan.

Last year in November,  The Resident District Commissioner of Kitgum district Mr. William Komakech blocked the middlemen from accessing Namokora Orom, Omiya Anyima, Mucwini where they were allegedly reported of cheating cotton producers with fake weighing scales.

Paul Opwony who works as the farmer’s coordinator to Equity Bank said the Bank is failing to recover its loan from the farmers because they have sold their produce cheaply to middlemen.

Jacky Ajok Oliver a resident of Palabek Ogili in Lamwo district said she has been sensitising the community about the dangers of selling produce to the middlemen but they are rigid.

She however implored the elite in Acholi to continue sensitizing the local to embark on cooperative to eradicate famine and poverty among the people in Acholi.

Robert Oloya, a farmer  and a resident of Te-tugu in Paibona Sub County Gulu district said he has resorted to selling his maize and beans to the middlemen because of impassable road which has deterred him from reaching the market.

Meanwhile Christopher Kinyera the publicity secretary for Kero Acholi initiative one of the community based organisation initiated in 2020 with the mission to empower the Acoli revealed that in 2020 Amuru district produced over 20 tonnes of rice.

He however wondered why people in Acholi are suffering from the famine out break as a result of vending produce rampantly to the middlemen.

David Amone Livingstone the Minister of Agriculture and Industry in Ker Kwaro Acholi has attributed  the vice of selling produce to the middlemen due to lack of cooperative society and distrust among the tribesmen.

“As Ker Kwaro Acholi we have initiated Kal Kwaro Acholi producer’s cooperative society which is engineering on mindset change and bringing people to work jointly and bulking their good together”

Amone explained that the cooperative leadership are entitled to look for the quality market with good prices to enable farmers in Acholi from profits of their hard work.

Amone however implored Acholi business community to establish more industries which will demand more raw materials from the local farmers for their production hence will create job opportunity among our unemployed youth.

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