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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on local rice production:

This news story provides an example of how agricultural subsidies and tariffs affect a farmer’s ability to sell his or her product locally and, over time, either encourage or discourage national production of a crop. In the 1990s, Ugandan rice farmers found it difficult to earn a living. The local market was satisfied with cheap imported rice (because farmers in the exporting countries were receiving subsidies.) But, since 2004, import duties have raised the price of imported rice, securing a place in the Ugandan market for locally-grown rice.

Dr. Godfrey Asea, a team leader of cereals programs for the National Crops Resources Research Institute, says Ugandan farmers still don’t earn as much as Indian farmers. Ugandan farmers can receive advice on what crops to grow and how to get good yields, through the National Agricultural Advisory Services, but they do not receive subsidies. According to Dr. Asea, an Indian rice farmer can earn about 10,000 rupees – about 230 American dollars or 150 Euros – by cultivating an acre of rice. As we learned in the story, a Ugandan farmer can earn about 150,000 shillings – about 100 American dollars or 60 Euros – for the same amount of work. Still, now that duties are pushing imported rice out of the market, more and more Ugandan farmers have found a financial incentive to grow rice.

While farmers can lobby their governments to change national policies on subsidies or duties, they must also cope with the existing market environment. Even without government support, there are ways that farmers can increase their profit margins. The following Farm Radio International scripts describe how forming a farmers’ co-op and staying current on market prices can help:

“Forming an effective farmers’ cooperative” (Package 83, Script 7, March 2008)
“Women set up a marketing and purchasing cooperative” (Episode 3 of the script series “Women and Credit,” Package 57, Script 5, October 2000)
“Market news from MEGA FM” (Package 83, Script 3, March 2008)
“Farmers’ helpers – Radio and extension help farmers plan” (Episode 5 of the script series “To Market, To Market,” Package 66, Script 10, March 2003)

You may also wish to raise awareness of how national and international policies affect the production of, and market for, food in your country, by researching questions such as:
-Does your government subsidize agricultural production in your country (for example, by providing inputs like fertilizer at below market rate, or by purchasing food from farmers at above market rate)? When did this subsidy program begin and what was the government’s motivation for implementing it? What impact did this have on the number of farmers growing the subsidized crop and the total amount of the crop grown? What do farmers have to say about the subsidies and the impact they have had on their farming business?
-To what extent does your country rely on imported food? What can you find out about the extent to which this imported food is subsidized by exporting countries’ governments, and how this affects local food prices? Does your government impose duties on any imported foods? Do farmers feel that the sale of imported foods affects their ability to sell crops locally and obtain a good price?

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