Earnings from maize, simsim exports increase

Maize and sesame (sim sim) farmers in Uganda are laughing to the bank after the prices of their crops rebounded pushing the country’s export earnings up in August.

Maize export earnings were up by 145% in the month of August, bringing in $13m (Shs 48bn) compared to just $5.3m (Shs 20bn) registered in July 2019, according to the Ministry of Finance September performance of the economy report.

The raise is due to increase in the prices of maize, a reprieve to many farmers who a year ago were selling their produce at rock-bottom.

A year ago, a kilogram of maize sold at as low as Shs 250 in some places. Farmers felt this was too low and some dropped the crop for others. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), a kilogram of maize now costs Shillings 1,200 up from Shillings 600 it cost in August 2018.

Keigare Muhwezi, a maize trader in Kampala said most farmers were demoralized last year and they dropped the crop from their list of priorities. The scarcity of the corn has skyrocketed the prices.

Also,  the ministry of finance report shows that other than maize, there was observed increment in the prices of sim sim, also pushing up its export earnings.

Sim Sim’s export earnings grew from $950,000 (Shs 3.5bn) in July to $3.5m (Shs 13bn) in August 2019. A kilogram of sim sim is currently at Shs 6000, up from Shs 3500 a year ago.

Sim Sim is on demand around the world. Last year, a Dubai based firm, Robust Trade Links, started mobilizing farmers in Acholi and Lango sub-region to boost sim sim trade.

During the month, coffee and fish export earnings also grew but this was due to increases in their respective volumes.

According to the Ministry of Finance, these developments saw export earnings grow by 1% from $318.43 million registered in July 2019 to $ 321.67 million in August 2019.

And compared to the same month last year, export receipts increased by 9.4% in August 2019.