This training manual on the market information system (MIS) for the coffee sub-sector in Uganda has been prepared as part of the project to improve marketing systems for coffee and cotton, including through developing Warehouse Receipt Systems (WRS).

The project, which is funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), is executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. A consortium led by the Natural Resources and including DCDM Advisory Services and Belmont Management Consultants, provided technical advice in implementation of the project.

According to the FAO a Market Information Service (MIS) is ‘A service, usually operated by the public sector, which involves the collection on a regular basis of information on prices and, in some cases, quantities of widely traded agricultural products, from rural assembly markets, wholesale and retail markets, as appropriate, and dissemination of this information on a timely and regular basis through various media to farmers, traders, government officials, policymakers and others, including consumers’ (Shepherd, 1997).

The manual focuses not only on provision of information on coffee prices but takes a broader view of the concept of market information as also including quantities produced and traded, potential buyers, quality standards and other requirements. It is also intended to provide important information on the warehouse receipt system (WRS) for potential participants interested in using the system to access trade finance and/or better market their crop.

The manual starts with an overview of stakeholders’ information needs in the context of the WRS; followed by a section highlighting the importance of market information, focusing in particular on how the prices of agricultural commodities such as coffee are determined in a free market – that is in markets where Government does not control the quantity or prices of commodities traded. The discussions reveal that domestic coffee prices tend to reflect international price movements, which are usually very variable – so while farmers and traders can gain from upward price movements, they also risk losses if prices fall.

This is what makes reliable market information important to market players – other benefits of the MIS are discussed in this section. The discussions in Section 3 focus on the collection, processing and dissemination of market information under the system developed for the coffee subsector in Uganda. The dissemination channels include radio, print media, mobile phones and the internet. Section 4 provides a guide on how to interpret market information.

The authors would like to thank all those who have contributed to the production of this manual. In particular, thanks are due to Mr Henry Ngabirano (Managing Director of UCDA), Mr Fred Mwesigye (National Project Coordinator / Commissioner for Cooperatives; Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry), Mr Chris Baine (WRS Project Consultant based in Kampala), and Mr Alex Rwego (Manager, Uganda Commodity Exchange). In addition, we are also grateful to organisations such as Foodnet, True Africa, mobile phone companies, coffee traders and various farmer cooperative societies, which have all provided valuable inputs during the different phases of the project. Finally, we would like to thank CFC and UNOPS for funding and executing this project.

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