By Herbert Musoke
The NAADS Executive Director, Dr. Samuel Mugasi, has encouraged stakeholders in the agricultural sector to benchmark from the Harvest Money Expo 2024 to propel agricultural transformation.
He reveals that the Expo, held under the theme: Farming as a Business, Post-Harvest Handling, and Innovations, provides a platform for agricultural stakeholders to share relevant information that can bolster the sector.
The event, organised by Vision Group in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands, will take place at the Kololo Independence Grounds from February 23–25. NAADS is among the sponsors of the Expo alongside Engineering Solutions (ENGSOL), dfcu Bank, Koica, and Techno Serve.
“Information is key in any critical decision-making process. The expo brings farmers, buyers, exporters, and processors, among others, together. We are eager to share with them because our main job is to give farmers vital information for better performance,” he says.
Dr. Mugasi noted that NAADS signed a memorandum of understanding with the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) to attract private investors into the agricultural sector value chain.
He explains that agriculture presents numerous opportunities across the value chain that private investors can tap into to establish sustainable, successful, and profitable businesses.
Mugasi adds that NAADS wants to use the opportunity of the thousands of people who visit the expo to share with possible investors the business opportunities across the agriculture value chain, which is why they came on board as gold sponsors.
“Agriculture doesn’t start with farmers and end with buyers. There are a lot of supplies, like fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides; storage and packaging machinery, name it. I want to thank Vision Group for providing a platform for agriculturalists. We want investors to start looking at agriculture as a profitable sector that they can invest in. We want to see private extension service providers, fertiliser producers, feed processors, and warehouse (cold room) operators, among others,” he stressed.
Mugasi reveals that NAADS’ vision is to ensure socio-economic transformation through agriculture, and in so doing, they have been supporting farmers, especially the less privileged, to ensure food security.
“Even now that we have scaled down because of the interventions by the Parish Development Model (PDM), farmers have already appreciated quality seed, and they can now sustain their own planting requirements, which is why Uganda has been food secure for some time,” he says.
Promoting high-value crops
Lately, NAADS has started promoting high-value crops like Hass avocado, cashew nuts, and macadamia, which are not traditional crops but have gained international demand.
“We have the mandate to promote high-value crops. At our stall, we will share all the critical information about where and how to access quality planting materials and agronomic practices,” Mugasi notes.
In the last planting season, NAADS distributed 140, 000 seedlings of macadamia to farmers across the country. The beneficiary farmers paid 30% of the seedling cost, while the Government, through NAADS, paid 70%.
On the market, a macadamia seedling costs between sh10,000 and sh11,000.
“We have moved away from distributing free planting materials and adopted the cost-sharing approach because it helps to avoid wastage of materials, promotes ownership by farmers, and ensures the sustainability of the intervention,” Mugasi explains.
Julius Bigabwa, one of the Vision Group’s best farmer winners, commercially planted 9 acres of macadamia with help from the Government.
According to Bigabwa, macadamia is harvested by picking the only dropped fruits because if they are picked from the tree, you can take the immature ones, which will give you poor quality.
He says that a well-managed macadamia tree can yield up to 160 kg, and the average is 100kg per tree per season. Each kg is sold at sh5,000, meaning that one gets sh500, 000 per tree.
The NAADS boss states that macadamia is the most popular and expensive nut in the world today, with an oil content of up to 67% and increasing demand in European countries, the Middle East, and China.
About the Harvest Money Expo 2024
The Harvest Money Expo is scheduled to take place from February 23rd to February 25th, with a number of trainings organised for the three days. Entrance is sh10,000, plus an additional sh10,000 for those who will attend trainings.
Orking with nucleus farmers
Samuel Mugasi explains that in order to actualise the intervention, the government has adopted the Nucleus Farmer Partnership strategy.
Under the strategy, NAADS has partnered with eight large-scale producers of the two crops to enable and enhance access to quality planting materials for macadamia and Hass avocado nurseries for smallholder farmers and out growers.
Through the strategy, the smallholder farmers access the relevant agricultural support services, including extension, research and technology, storage, processing, and value addition, market information and market for produce, financial support, and insurance from the big producers.
The strategic intervention is being implemented under an MOU. Parties to the MOU include the NAADS Secretariat, the Nucleus Farmer/Farm, and the district local government in which the project is located and has a concentration of activities for the out-growers.
PHOTO CAPTION: NAADS Executive Director Dr. Samuel Mugasi said the Expo provides a platform for agricultural stakeholders to share relevant information that can bolster the sector. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba