According to the members, last year they recieved information that the Uganda Development Corporation -UDC was undertaking a feasibility study to pave way for the establishment of a cocoa processing factory in the district but they have not recieved any feedback since then.
Josephine Babingi Bebona, the Bundibigyo district woman member of parliament told URN that the uncontrolled fall in cocoa prices justifies the urgent need for economic diversification strategies at household levels that can deliver sustained, job-intensive, and inclusive growth.
The proposed factory that will be managed by Bwamba Cooperative Union is meant to enhance capacity for the cocoa production to increase its quantity and quality for the benefit of local farmers and investors.
Alima Komuhangi says middle men only come and tell them that the prices have gone down without giving them any explanation. The farmer who also buys fresh cocoa from other farmers for resale asks the government to intervene and stabilize the prices.
During an operation conducted in the districts of Bundibugyo, Bunyangabu, Ntoroko, Kabarole, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Mityana, Kasanda and Mubende, NDA also has impounded 25 boxes of veterinary medicines estimated at 53.7 Million Shillings.
Etienne Muhumuza, the Burondo Sub county LC V councilor, says it is unfortunate that while the entire globe is concentrating on afforestation, Semuliki National Park sanctioned the cutting down of trees from a district that has been grappling with effects of deforestation.
According to statistics from the district commercial office, more than 85 of the population in Bundibugyo is directly dependent on cocoa. The crop also fetches about 150 billion shillings into the district annually.
George Muhenda, a farmer in Itoojo village, Busaru Sub County, says he lacks funds to hire private guards to protect his cocoa garden from thieves. He explains that last year, thieves stole more than 500 ripe cocoa pods from his plantation.
Cocoa farmers lack machines to clean, dry and store their harvest, which compromises the quality of the produce, the report shows. It further notes that majority of the farmers dry cocoa on bare grounds and dirty surface exposing it to dust and stones.
Bundibugyo district council has passed a bye-law compelling all farmers in the district to plant food crops and not focus only on cocoa growing. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report indicating that at least 45% of children below the age of 5 years in Bundibugyo district suffer from chronic malnutrition.