Kasese district is experiencing a rising concern among vegetable vendors and consumers due to the scarcity of essential products like onions and tomatoes in the market. The drop in vegetable supply, especially onions, and tomatoes, has been observed across most parts of the district, leading to an increase in prices.
Despite having the Mubuku Irrigation scheme and several mini-irrigation schemes, vegetable production remains disappointingly low. Consequently, the prices of onions have more than doubled in the past month, with a bowl of onions now fetching between Shillings 15,000 and 18,000 compared to Shillings 6,000 just a month ago.
Retailers are selling medium-sized onions at Shillings 500 each, while larger ones go for Shillings 1,000. Doreen Kabugho, a market vendor, attributes the limited supply of onions to the dry season, which hampers sustainable production.
Similarly, Milton Baluku, another vendor, suggests that the scarcity of vegetables like onions could be due to the prolonged dry season combined with high local and foreign market demand. Local restaurants and small businesses are also feeling the impact of the abnormal price hike and scarcity.
Lucky Kembabzi, operating a restaurant opposite Mawa market, reveals that many small businesses have been forced to abandon spicing food due to the skyrocketing vegetable prices. He emphasizes that vegetable prices tend to fluctuate depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
Richard Kimeze, the chairperson of Mawa market vendors, points out that the current scarcity is a result of only a few farmers in the area engaging in onion farming. He believes that more significant food crop producers in Kasese could emerge if farmers in the irrigation schemes focus on essential crops instead of non-food items like mangoes, cotton, and eucalyptus trees.
Agricultural expert Gideon Mukirania supports this notion and suggests that farmers should be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to choose crops that yield easily and in high quantities. He emphasizes the importance of local authorities providing guidance on the proper utilization of irrigation schemes across the district.
Chairperson Kasese district, Eliphazi Muhindi, acknowledges that the irrigation scheme is currently underutilized due to inadequate water supply. Addressing this water supply issue could potentially boost vegetable production and alleviate the scarcity problem.