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MARACHA. The establishment of rice huller machines at Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) boarder markets in Maracha district to automate the process of removing the chaff of rice is motivating farmers on both sides to engage in commercial production.
“We used to hull the husk of rice in Ariwara market located over 30km inside DRC but the establishment of the machines in Odramacaku, Osidribiku and Malaba boarder markets has now relieved farmers in Maracha, Koboko and Arua districts,” some farmers told West Nile Web in an interview on Tuesday.
Ms Knight Driciru, a resident of Nyamia village in Oluvu sub-county, Maracha district acknowledged that production of rice has greatly changed the lives of farmers from subsistence to commercial level.
She said the least portion of land used by a farmer for planting rice is an acre.
Driciru noted that in a good season, a farmer may harvest at least 10 bags of rice from an acre of land.
During the season of plenty, a basin of unprocessed rice costs shs18, 000 while a full sack containing seven basins is sold at shs126, 000.
“But with the value addition to our produce courtesy of the rice huller machines in place, we now pocket over shs300,000 per bag which is double profit to us and so attractive,” Driciru narrated.
She said the money got from the sales is used for feeding the family in areas where other food crops like cassava and beans yield poorly. Some people use the money for paying school fees, building and buying animals.
Ms Rose Tiperu, another resident of Ayikuru village in Oluvu sub-county noted that the rice huller machines have significantly improved the quality of rice in the area compared to the traditional method of pounding using mortar and pestle.
“The machines remove the husk and the bran layers, and produce an edible white rice kernel that is sufficiently milled free of impurities with minimum number of broken kernels,” Tiperu explained.
Tiperu who harvested six bags of rice last year said children and adults like rice because it serves different purposes including meals of the day hence saving other food items like cassava and beans.
Meanwhile Ms Gloria Eyotaru, a teacher at Galia primary school observed that the tradition of eating rice during big occasions no longer exists in the area.
She called on farmers to consider minimizing the challenges in production like destruction by animals and poor weeding to achieve maximum benefits.
She said they rent wet lands from people but if one uses appropriate techniques like planting rice in lines to allow sufficient weeding, high yields can be realized.
According to Mr Amos Atiku, the Oluvu sub-county chairperson, the introduction of the machines has empowered farmers to earn better income from their good quality rice supplies to Arua town and DRC.
“I call upon local investors to install more machines in the inland trading centres to reduce long distances to Osidribiku, Malaba and Odramacaku”, Atiku appealed.
“We are now in the process of mobilizing youths to form groups in order to apply for youth loan for buying rice huller machines and establish them at Nyadria market so as to help our farmers,” Atiku stated.
A Congolese national only identified as Mr Sederike, one of the three rice huller operators at Odramacaku market said they established the machine in the area to reduce the cost of transport incurred by the farmers from Uganda side to Ariwara market in DRC.
Sederike said he normally removes the husk of a kilogram of rice at shs100 and during the season of plenty, he receives at least 20 bags of rice per day from farmers to be processed. A bag contains at least 100kg of rice.