Archive for February 2007

A visit to Nakawa Market

February 21, 2007

Nakawa market is one of the major markets in Kampala and one of the biggest suppliers of fresh and dry foodstuffs for the population in and around the city. Other key markets include Owino, Kalerwe, Nakasero and Kisenyi.

Like any other market, Nakawa brings together a cluster of vendors selling vegetables, fresh foods, fruits, cereals, livestock products, poultry, locally made kitchenware, native pottery, used clothes and shoes

This market is a legendary one. It has existed since time immemorial and continues to be one of the major hubs for consumers and businesspeople that source items here cheaply and sell them elsewhere at addition costs.

Nakawa Market
Being one of the most vibrant sources for Kampala residents, anyone would be compelled to know where these agricultural items come from.

The supply chain to these markets is a continuous process. Everyday, truckloads of foodstuffs offload at various terminals of the market but with most intervals experienced during weekends.

Interaction with suppliers reveals a lot. Different parts of Uganda are endowed with different agricultural items.

Matooke (bananas), potatoes (Irish), onions and cabbages are mainly sourced from Kabale, a district bordering Rwanda to the south west of the Uganda. Some Matooke also comes from Masaka district and a bunch costs between Uganda shilling 5000 to 7000 equivalent of US dollars 2.5 to 4 off the lorry.

A sack of Irish Potatoes from Ssingo or Kabale costs between Uganda shillings 35,000 to 40,000 equivalent of US dollars 20 to 23.

Mbarara District is also famous for sweet bananas, Bogoya in the local language. ‘We also used to get it from Mbale but it was very expensive and our customers couldn’t afford it,’ Nalongo, who owns a sweet banana stall reveals.

The eastern region is cradle to sweet potatoes, cassava, rice, chickens, turkeys, watermelon and beans. “Sweet potatoes also come from Kayunga but the yellow ones are from Soroti,” Faizal, a sweet potato trader says. Kayunga district is famous for Pineapples, tomatoes and pumpkins.

Matooke seller
A sack from Iganga is of high quality and goes for not less than Uganda shillings 70, 000 equivalent of US Dollars 40 off the lorry.

Mbale and Tororo districts are key onion producers. Cereals are mostly sourced from Soroti and Lira districts where they are cheaper compared to other parts of the country.

Nakawa market, strategically located along the eastern route has several sources of supplies. Most stock like for other markets in Kampala, comes from Kabale, Mbarara, Iganga, Kayunga, Masaka, and Soroti among others.

This initiative is supported by Bellanet Africa and its development associates


My week in the field

February 10, 2007

This week gets to a better start. I visit Nakawa, Nakasero, Owino and Kalerwe markets, to collect prices for essential agricultural produce.

By 6:30am, I’m already part of the crowd in Nakawa Market, interacting with suppliers, buyers and sellers. I see different trucks full of Matooke, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, raw maize etc. Buyers crowd around the trucks to pay and offload their purchases.

As the day unfolds, more people come to the market, creating high demand for the produce and eventually causing prices to increase. Prices here are somehow elastic, as they can change any time depending on the time of the day. But of course like in any other market demand and supply are the key determinants of these prices.

There is plenty of supply of fresh commodities here save for cassava. The reason for this is not known and since everybody seems busy, non of them is willing to volunteer an answer.

The routine here is that buyers from various markets scattered all over Kampala come to big markets early enough to get better prices and better products and resell to their respective markets at a profit.

Fresh vegetables
Cereals, beans, G. Nuts, Maize seeds etc are also in plenty. Prices of these items are somehow prohibitive because their season has past. Save for the G. Nuts and Cow peas, prices of other dry foods are below one USD at retail but could possibly be much lower at wholesale. Unlike international markets Uganda offers good prices for produce.

In Nakasero market the story is different. Prices are higher than anywhere else in Kampala. This market is located in the central business district of the city but also serves a unique category of consumers such as big hotels and tourists. Although different people have different reasons for the soaring prices here, in totality the answers reside in there. A one Elvis, a watermelon seller believes that Nakasero offers well selected and high quality produce from farmers compared to other markets.

Mrs. Mubiru who owns a fruit stall simply believes that the nature of customers coming to this market; especially tourists from Europe, Asia and other foreigners are the reason for the high prices.

Asians are common guests here. I see many buying spices such as parsley, durria, okra, celery and so many others. Hotels and restaurants are major customers here when it comes to Indian and Chinese spices.

Although most items here are local and therefore Uganda grown, apples, citrus, strawberries and dates are not. The latter are sourced from Kenya, Egypt and as far as Saudi Arabia.

I notice that prices for beef, kidney, liver and chickens are somehow uniform in all the four major markets in Kampala. If there is a shortage of supply of cows, all the markets are paralysed. Western Uganda is the chief supplier of beef and Eastern Uganda is known for supplying chickens and Turkeys.

Another market I visit is Owino. Situated downtown Kampala, this market is constantly full. Commodities here are sold cheaply compared to Nakawa and Nakasero although Owino spurs with Kalerwe in terms of good prices.

Prices for beans and maize in Owino are usually reasonable. But this week prices have soared as a result of schools reopening.

Kalerwe market is my last destination for the day. Prices here are also reasonable but the traffic congestion and lack of parking makes customers opt out. This market is also well stuffed.

All the major markets in Kampala benefit from fresh supply of commodities from Masaka, Kabale, Mbarara, Masindi and Eastern Uganda. This week, beef shortages are most likely as a result of quarantine due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Western Uganda.

This initiative is supported by Bellanet Africa and its development associates