Ugandan grain traders could miss out on $38.4m (sh141b) export deals to Kenya due to substandard warehousing, the head of the Eastern Africa Grain Council, Kizito Kiiza Amooti, has warned.

The situation could also affect trade with other markets in the region which includes Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, DR Congo and Burundi. However, Kiiza says the traders can remedy the situation by acquiring standard, certified and properly operated warehouses. Only 18 out of an estimated 93 warehouses in Uganda are certified by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC).

There also 84 aggregation centers that are owned by individuals, farmer organizations or co-operatives, which according to EAGC, meet the required standard. However, these aggregation centers can only keep grain for a maximum of two months.

Types oF warehouses

The warehouses are usually in two forms — the flatbed storage and the silos for bulk storage. The flatbed storage must have a concrete floor, proper ventilation, away from the drainage channels and no avenues of pest infestation. Similarly, a silo must have functional fumigation nipples, aeration systems, properly fitted sweep augers and an efficient control system to keep the grain safe.

According to Kiiza, Kenyan processors want at least 400,000 metric tonnes of maize before the next harvest in January, yet only about 120,000 metric tonnes have been signed for the market. These are in the certified warehouses.

One of Kenya’s big millers, UNGA Limited, needs 6000 metric tonnes of maize, 500 metric tonnes of green gram (choroko) and 6000 Metric tonnes of soybeans from Uganda monthly, he said. “Sometimes our members have the produce, but have no market. When they get the market, the produce at times is rejected due to quality issues ranging from high aflatoxin levels, discoloration, rotten and diseased grain, among other things,” Kiiza said.

Last month Kiiza led a Kenyan team of EAGC officials and UNGA to Uganda to meet the grain suppliers. They visited warehouses and farms in Amuru, Nwoya, Soroti, Kapchorwa, Kiryandongo, and parts of Kampala districts to ensure they meet the required standards. In many of these places, there were “If they were active, they would have registered and inspected more storage facilities and warehouses for trade, which means people would confidently walk in and pay for already processed grain,” Asiimwe said.

According to Asiimwe, Uganda’s grain storage capacity — in both the certified and uncertified warehouses — stands at 700,000 metric tonnes, yet production is at 4.5 million metric tonnes of grain. He said even the 112 facilities planned for construction all over the country may not be able to contain what is produced in a season.

Construction of the 112 storage facilities is to be funded by the UK. “If officials at the warehouse receipt system can work with the private sector, more warehouses would be constructed, certified and made ready for grains needed by the market,” Asiimwe said.

He added that his company is finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the EAGC to forge a working modality that will see more storage facilities certified. Other organizations that the Integrated Agritech Uganda Limited is working with include the Uganda Grain Council, Uganda Co-operative Alliance, National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and the agriculture ministry.


Kiiza says EAGC is working in partnership with aBi Trust, a donor-funded organization offering agriculture financing to the agriculture value chain, to encourage its members to go into the export market. The beneficiaries of the training include people who grade the produce, operate the machines to test quality, collect the grain from the farmers, fumigate the grain and those who store it.

The recommended way of storing grain in a lat bed warehouse. Photos by Prossy Nandudu Officials from Integrated Group and UK partners Colas carry out quality checks on a storage facility in Matuga Wakiso district individual farmers interested in supplying the grain to the Kenyan market but were impeded by the lack of proper storage facilities which companies then produce.

According to EAGC warehouse inspector and program officer, structured trading systems, Pasta Classy Nuwagaba, his organization works hand in hand with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to inspect the warehouses. Nuwagaba said in addition to the already mentioned requirements, the warehouse roof must be of good quality and the structure must have pallets where the grain bags would be placed instead of the floor.


However, the limited number of certified warehouses has been blamed on the failure of the receipt system. Emmanuel Asiimwe, the managing director of Integrated Agritech Uganda Limited, a company constructing grain storage facilities, said the system has failed to identify facilities for certification.


Deborah Kyarasiime, the executive director of the Uganda Warehouse Receipt System Authority, said the receipt system has not failed. Kyarasiime said the authority has already certified 30% of the country’s warehouses and storage facilities though she would not say what constituted the 30%.

She indicated, however, that they include the 18 certified by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) adding that by the end of August, nine additional warehouses will have been certified. Kyarasiime said the process of certifying may not be rushed as this compromises quality since it takes care of the entire value chain, starting with the way the grains are handled at harvest time to the structure where it will be kept.

She said it also includes the equipment used for testing, people analyzing the data and the commodities. “And now that there is an opportunity to supply good quality grain to the Kenyan market, we should identify areas where the grains will come from and interest existing suppliers under the Gain Council of Uganda to work with EAGC so as to serve the market better,” Kyarasiime said.

She, however, added that the long-term goal to ensure the quality of the grain is for the private sector working with the Government including investing in their supply chains. Kyarasiime added that they should ensure they have proper harvest materials such as tarpaulins, dryers, and graders so that the grain is stored when already in good shape.

Nuwagaba said a warehouse roof must be of good quality and have pallets where the grain bags would be placed Silos and a warehouse under construction

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