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NAADS Launches sh9b Oil Crops Growing Project

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As a way of increasing production and reducing the high cost of cooking oil, the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) has started distributing sunflower and soya bean seeds to commercial farmers in northern Uganda.

NAADS manager and head of technical agribusiness services Dr Christopher Bukenya said the Government, through the agriculture ministry, has earmarked sh9b from the mainstream budget to support the project to boost the production of oil crops with high value in 12 districts.

While launching the project last week at the Nwoya district headquarters, where 17 large-scale farmers picked the seeds, Bukenya said the project targets farmers, who do farming on 50 hectares and above and have been engaging in growing the two oil crops.

“We are here to launch the delivery and distribution of sunflower and soya bean seeds under the Government’s strategic intervention to boost production of oil crops as Uganda and the world are grappling in the global commodity supply chain,” he said.

“We are doing import substitution to be self-sustaining in the production of oil crops in our country. These crops are not being produced for the first time, we already have an initiative of the private sector, especially in Acholi and Lango regions. Mukwano, Mt Meru and Ngetta holding have also been leading firms and companies promoting the production of oil crops, as well as milling or extracting oil and animal feeds.”

“We partnered with large-scale farmers to boost production of both food and cash crops. Previously, under Operation Wealth Creation, the Government has been focusing only on supporting small[1]scale farmers to boost food security and eradicate poverty,” Bukenya remarked.

NAADS head of communication and public relations Khadija Nakakande said they are shifting from food security to supporting large-scale farmers to improve their income and exports.

She said the Government has taken note of the shortage of vegetable oils not only in Uganda, but the entire world, due to distractions in the supply chain of vegetable oil because of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

Nakakande said: “The Government decided to produce more oil crops to reduce the prices of vegetable oil in the market. At the moment, vegetable oil is expensive; the price of oil that used to cost sh3,500 is now over sh7,000, yet it is a necessity.”

“We have created partnerships with large-scale farmers and co-operatives, who are into oil crops production, where we are focusing on 12 districts in the Acholi and Lango sub-region, as well as Bulambuli and Nakapiripirit. In the Acholi sub-region, we are in Nwoya, which has many large-scale farmers,” she said.

Distribution of seeds

Nakakande said they are distributing the seeds to farmers on cost-sharing basis, where they pay 70% and the farmer pays 30%.

She said they have signed a memorandum of understanding with the large-scale farmers and co-operatives, committing themselves to recover 30% of the cost of these seeds at the end of the season.

She explained that in the previous projects, they had been giving seeds and seedlings for free to farmers, but realised that most of them do not plant it. “We have procured 500,000kg of soya bean seed and 71,000kg of sunflower seeds from South Africa. Sunflower seed is expensive; a kilo costs between sh70,000 and sh80,000,” Nakakande said.

Other oil crops

Nakakande said besides supporting large-scale farmers to engage in the production of sunflower and soya bean this financial year, the Government has also injected sh30b in boosting the production of macadamia and avocado.

She said, in this project, they will work with already established farmers who have been growing the crops.

She added that northern Uganda will not benefit from the project as there is no farmer engaged in the production of avocado and macadamia.

“We are starting the distribution of planting materials this rainy season. By next week, the farmers will start receiving their seedlings,” Nakakande said.

“We are looking at export promotion, increasing income of our farmers and promotion of value addition. We cannot promote exports if the quantity of your product is still low. So, we decided to partner with large-scale farmers they have the potential.”

Nakakande said there are many farmers engaged in the production of macadamia and avocado that they plan to support so that they produce in large quantities to make sure that they penetrate the export market.

Emmanuel Orach, the Nwoya district chairperson, said the initiative will relieve farmers from acquiring loans to buy seeds.

He said farmers have been eagerly waiting for the seed to plant. Gladys Acayo, the manager of three farms — Katinya, Tangi and Alok ki Winyo mixed farms — belonging to Gen Charles Otema Awany, welcomed the 30% cost sharing, saying oil seeds are expensive.

She said this will help increase their production as they were initially producing these crops on a small-scale.

Geoffrey Odokonyero, the farm manager of Tekworo Foundation in Nwoya, appreciated the distribution of seeds with cost sharing, saying it will allow them to work hard to produce oil crops as they are supposed to pay back the seeds they got from NAADS.

He requested NAADS to regulate the price of the two oil crops so that it encourages farmers to engage in commercial production.

Market for the oil crops

NAADS head of communication and public relations Khadija Nakakande said they decided to implement the project for large-scale farmers because they have been growing the crops and have a market for their produce. She said, usually, farmers who complain about a lack of market for their products are small-scale farmers.

“We are coming with import substitution, where we want farmers to grow oil crops, extract the oil and sell it in the local market. We have the market for these oil crops here in Uganda,” she said.

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