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MAAIF Lists Priorities in To Promote Agro Industrialization

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Prossy Nandudu

Poor soils are responsible for the low production of crops in the country. And yet reduced crop production leads to less food for home consumption, for industry and also for trade, according to economic analysts.

In the financial year 2021/22, agriculture accounted for about 24.1% of GDP, and 33% of export earnings, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).  UBOS further estimates that about 70% of Uganda’s working population is employed in agriculture.

That is why the government through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry is undertaking a comprehensive update of the national soil suitability maps as one the ways through the agro industrialization agenda will be achieved.

The aim is to guide the farming community in the missing nutrients from the soil, but also learn from experts on what to add to rejuvenate the soils, according to the agriculture ministry.

Apart from the farming communities, information gathered through the soil mapping will also guide extension workers when recommending to farmers the kind of fertilizer or soil fertility enhancers to add in the soil.

Extension workers will also use the data collected about the soils in the country to recommend the right fertilizers that suit farmers, based in the different agro ecological zones.

Although the ministry has been encouraging the public to embrace the use of fertilizer for increased production, uptake remains low because some farmers have no information in relation to fertilizer usage, some fear the costs, while many don’t know how to apply them

The ministry further adds that poor usage or not using fertilizers could be the reason why 68.9% of households are still stuck in subsistence agriculture.

Other reasons advanced by the ministry include limited sensitization of farmers about the kind of enterprises to venture into among others.

To make the data factual, the ministry will work with soil scientists from the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO), Makerere University, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Post-harvest handling strategy

In addition to managing the productivity of the soils, the ministry is also promoting post-harvest handling technologies, through the approved post-harvest loss reduction strategy. 

It also aimed at guiding the creation and awareness, promotion of better harvesting, post-harvest handling and storage practices.

The strategy has further been changed with the support of 260 farmer groups to establish storage facilities across the country. 

These consisted of 34 stores for beans, 39 for cassava, 81 for coffee, 73 for maize and 33 for rice.  The intervention has led to a reduction in post-harvest losses to 18.2% compared to 24.9% in the past.

Still under post-harvest management, the ministry has procured and distributed 485 milk handling equipment to different dairy stakeholders across the country. 

The high grade milk handling equipment came in three sizes (50L, 25L and 10L) to facilitate clean milk post-harvest storage and transportation. 

A total of 60 dairy cooperatives and farmer groups benefited from the milk handling equipment country wide.

Value addition

Through the Uganda Development Corporation, the government invested in Kayonza Tea Growers Limited, through a leasing arrangement to install a third CTC line that can process 600kg of tea per hour.

In 2021, through UDC, Mpanga Tea Growers Ltd were recapitalized to the tune of UGX 4.34 billion to facilitate purchase of green leaf to improve capacity utilization, and to cover partial settlement of financial debts.

Still under UDC, the government intervened in the Bukona Agro Processer Ltd by providing additional machinery and working capital for operations. The factory commenced commercial operations in May 2021. 

The ministry is exploring modalities of establishing a 400MT /day of Cassava processing for starch under the Acholi bur Parish Project pioneered by the Catholic Diocese of Gulu.

In addition, UDC is also supporting the cassava processing through Acholi Bur Catholic Archdiocese in Pader district; Bukona Agro- Processors in Nwoya district; and Bagadia Cassava Factory in Lira.

Other value addition interventions that the MAAIF has been promoting include the established 213 processing facilities for farmer organizations across the country.

These included; 64 coffee hullers, 55 maize mills, 5 sets of feed mills, 27 rice mills, 17 cassava mills and 31 beans sorters, 14 sets of milk coolers and matching generators. Other equipment included 58 weighing scales, 64 moisture meters and 27 driers.

Other interventions under MAAIF include the completion of Civil works for the construction of slabs and ancillary structures for 12 containerized milk coolers for Kamwenge, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, & Kabarole Districts

The have also procured and installed 57 motorized coffee pulpers (800kg of Cherie per hour) for 57 coffee wet processing stations under Bukonzo Organics Farmers’ Cooperative Union & Mt Rwenzori farmers’ Cooperative union in Kasese District under the Rwenzori AGRILED program.

Despite the progress, the ministry encountered challenges such as insufficient supply of cassava for the production of ethanol through the established facilities. 

The reason, according to the ministry, is due to prolonged rains that not only damaged cassava root-tubers but also constrained transportation of cassava from the farmlands to the company.

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