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Gov’t Mobilises Farmers In Acholi To Grow Macadamia

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By Joshua Kato    

Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has urged farmers in Acholi sub-region to embrace macadamia farming as a game changer that will transform their communities and deliver them from poverty. 

This call was made by the State Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, as he addressed leaders and farmers in Agago district during the mobilisation and sensitisation of communities towards the growing of macadamia in Acholi sub-region coordinated by the Chief Justice of Uganda Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.

In partnership with Make Acholi Green Again (MAGRA), Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo launched a campaign to transform Acholi sub-region through the growing of macadamia; a tree he has code-named the ‘money tree’. 

The mobilisation started with three groups of farmers and leaders in the target sub-counties of Lira-Palwo, Agago and Adilang in Agago district. 

Speaking to the leaders and farmers, Owiny-Dollo said the campaign to grow macadamia is aimed at transforming the vast land in Acholi into what could yield income for all categories of farmers in a sustainable manner. 

Minister Bwino said his ministry through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) will support farmers in the region with 30,000 macadamia seedlings this financial year, and additional seedlings in the subsequent years until all interested households are covered.

“In addition to providing the planting materials for macadamia, the Ministry of Agriculture will train the volunteer coordinators for macadamia based on their priority needs,” explained Bwino. 

On the issue of market access for the macadamia, Bwino said his ministry will identify and engage a large-scale/nucleus farmer and once identified, Government will build the capacity of the nucleus farmer to aggregate farmers’ produce and add value in preparation for the export market. 

He said the global demand for macadamia is still huge.

The Executive Director NAADS, Dr. Samuel Mugasi, committed to working closely with the Chief Justice and the Ministry of Agriculture to promote the highly valued macadamia value chain. 

He said the region needs to have a perennial crop as a fall-back for the smallholder farmers. 

Dr. Mugasi said the region has a lot of potential for growing macadamia, but also other crops like Hass avocado and cashew nuts.

He urged both the leaders and farmers in the region not to disappoint the Chief Justice, but rather take his advice on how to improve the livelihoods of the people of the Acholi sub-region. 

NAADS has so far delivered 7,500 macadamia seedlings to give the farmers out of the 30,000 which have been planted this season. 

According to Dr. Mugasi, the remaining seedlings will be delivered in season A of 2023 which begins in March. 

The campaign started with five seedlings per homestead in the sub-counties of Lira-Palwo, Adilang and Agago town council/Lukole where 300 homesteads were covered. In season A of 2023, the same homesteads will receive another additional five seedlings. 

Minister Bwino said each financial year, Government will distribute 30,000 macadamia seedlings until the entire Acholi sub-region is covered. 

New money crops 

The Government of Uganda has identified the production of Hass Avocado and Macadamia as priority interventions with enormous potential to contribute to the agricultural sector growth. 

Despite the existing potential for production, the commercial supply of Hass avocado and Macadamia is still minimal.

Macadamia and Hass Avocado are currently some of the most highly demanded commodities in a world market whose sensitivity to quality parameters is very high, the promotion of these commodities, therefore, requires a model that enables traceability and achievement of high-quality standards at each segment of the respective value chain. 

According to Shayaan Morvi, one of the managers at Amafh macadamia farm in Mityana, each tree will give two kilograms per season in the beginning. When a tree gets to seven years, you get from 15-20kgs per season. At 10 years, it is 60-80kgs from each tree every season. 

Morvi says macadamia has several products that are made out of it. These include cooking oil, as an ingredient in cookies, chocolate and ice cream, among others.  

The leaves can be used as animal feed, and the hard seed coat can be used for cooking.  

According to MAAIF figures, in 2019, Uganda sold 201 tonnes of macadamia nuts. For 2019, the market for Uganda macadamia nuts increased by 183.099% compared to about 80 tonnes in 2018.  

Macadamia nuts’ exports grew by 139.29% netting the nation US$0.54m for the year 2019. 

Eva Rwangpako, a starting macadamia farmer says that the new crop offers wider opportunities as it improves earnings. 

“It is very interesting and I look forward to being a farmer of macadamia,” she says. 

 The Ministry of Agriculture has adopted the Nucleus Farmer model for the promotion of high value nontraditional agricultural export commodities. 

The Nucleus Farmer model has the potential to ensure provision of knowledge and skills to farmers within appropriate institutional arrangements for the production and marketing of quality produce/products for the respective value chains. 

The nucleus farmer model, therefore, presents a big opportunity to promote the development of Macadamia and Hass avocado production in Uganda.

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