Rice in Doho, Uganda

Rice in Doho, Uganda

Less workload for the farmers, and more local rice on the plates of Ugandans

Rice is the daily staple food for most of the world. In the years to come, its production will have to grow exponentially. It is calculated that by 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion people, most of them living in urban areas. At the same time, climate change and water scarcity are endangering the rice fields. A new approach is necessary.

In Uganda, like in its neighbour countries, demand for rice is growing due to the increasing number of city dwellers. Although the country has the right climate and geography to cultivate the crop, the current production only covers 70% of the national demand. Moreover quality problems and high costs shifts the market preference towards Asian producers. If it wasn’t for the high import tax on foreign rice, the local industry would not survive at all. The Ugandan government is aware of the possibilities for a growing local rice market, which has potential not only at the local market but also in neighbouring countries like Kenya. To increase production and guide the development of the value chain, the government has created the Rice Steering Committee (RSC) and funded some infrastructure projects like the rehabilitation of the Doho Irrigation System.

The Doho Irrigation System waters 1000 hectares of rice fields in the Butaleja district. Around 4500 small scale farmers work in this region.Doho Irrigation Scheme Farmers Cooperative Society Limited (DIFACOS) was created to manage the irrigation scheme and defend the interest of the farmers.

The farmers live next to the irrigation scheme. Before the rehabilitation, their houses were regularly effected by floods. More than half the population is under 18. Most of them don’t have machinery for cultivation, so the workload is very heavy. In general, this work is done by women and children, thus resulting in a high school dropout rate. Most urban centres have electricity, but only a few houses are connected to the grid in the rural areas.


  • There is an unreliable supply of farmers inputs. Most of the seeds used are of poor or low quality. High quality seeds are difficult to access, due to high costs. All of this has an effect on the productivity and the quality.
  • Productivity and quality are low because farmers** use rudimentary techniques.**
  • The crop is very** labour-intensive due to a lack of machinery**, this increases the cost as well as the burden of women and children who provide most of the labour.
  • The production doesn’t meet the necessary quality standards including Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and East African Standards (EAS) and thus it is unable to compete with the Asian imports .
  • The processing companies have poor quality machinery, which lowers the quality of the final product.
  • The weakness of the farmers organization leads to an inefficient market chain which increases transaction costs as the farmers do not aggregate and sell collectively. At the same time, this reduces their leverage in trade negotiations.
  • High transaction costs due to poor road conditions which makes transport extremely difficult during the rainy season.
  • The **high startup costs combined with the difficulty to get credit **make the rice crop unattractive to the youth and migration to the cities a more attractive option.


  • To Increase productivity, we will organize trainings in Good Agriculture Practices (including the System of Rice Intensification) and promote their use in Demonstration Farms.
  • To lower the workload and increase productivity, we will stimulate mechanization.
  • To facilitate the access to credit, we will promote the creation of savings and credit solidarity groups, SACCOs and linkage to banks.
  • We will** link the farmers business organizations and processing companies to financial institutions to secure credit **so that they can improve and expand their post harvest services: secure storage, drying facilities, new and better quality processing machines. We will link them with farmers organizations ensuring a fair price for both sides.
  • To improve quality we will promote the implementation of **Quality Management Systems **with all the actors of the chain. The objective is to get a UNBS certificate and also meet the EAS requirements.
  • We will give DIFACOS management and entrepreneurship courses, so they can create a strong collective marketing cooperative.
  • To strengthen trade relations, we will facilitate an inclusive partnership between distributers, processors and farmers. We aim for contracts with a clear pricing system, graded by quality.
  • We will strive to create a** Memorandum of Understanding between the rice stakeholders** of the Doho hub, so they can collaborate in their lobbying efforts. We will aim at ensuring that the voices of the farmers are heard in the negotiations.
  • We will sensitize the farmer organizations on the negative effects of use of child labor and ensure fair remuneration for women and men.

What do we expect to achieve by 2017?

  • There is a 39% increment in productivity
  • Half of the production meets the EAS and UNBS Quality Standard.
  • 50% of the rice production is sold collectively by farmers organization under long-term inclusive contracts.
  • A 15% reduction on the labour cost makes the crop more attractive for investments and entrepreneurs.
  • 80% of the farmers have access to financial services through SACCOS and savings and credit solidarity groups .
  • The Memorandum of Understanding defines common strategies to develop the rice sector to all the rice stakeholders of the Doho hub. These include lobbying activities towards the government and participation in the Rice Steering Committee (RSC).

What do we expect in the long term?

  • Less workload and strict regulation has a positive impact on the regional school attendance.
  • The Uganda government and the rice stakeholders create a framework that encourages the rice industry and improve the necessary infrastructure.
  • Uganda has rice sovereignty and a surplus to export.
  • The rice trade is guaranteed with a more sustainable system.
  • Improvements in productivity and quality will make the crop attractive for the new generation.