Three cassava varieties have been developed by researchers at the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO).
The new varieties are aimed at supporting the brewery industry that is adding to value to cassava to make different alcoholic drinks such as Engule beer.
The varieties are NARO CAS 3, 4 and 5. Cassava varieties developed previously would leave behind some particles in the beer bottle, a process known as sedimentation. This was revealed by the director of NARO, Dr Ambrose Agona while highlighting key achievements of the research arm in the last financial year.
He explained that the development will reduce imports of raw materials by the beer industry by 85%, and the money will be diverted to other development programmes.
To access the varieties, he said the research organisation has already signed MOUs with the industry players.
Agona added that the breweries will access the varieties through a partnership that NARO has established with the Nile Breweries and Uganda Breweries.
From the MOU with Nile Breweries signed two years ago, both entities will support farmers to scale up cassava production, which is estimated at 5 metric tonnes annually, by getting improved varieties from NARO and taking them to farmers.
For Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), through their Local Raw Materials programme, these will source 100% of the raw materials from Uganda. So far, they work with 20,000 farmers directly benefiting 25,000 households.
Though the MOU, UBL will work with NARO’s research technologies and expertise to boost production at the same time increasing household incomes
It is estimated that NBL purchases raw materials worth $23m from local farmers, and plans to set aside a figure for research on the selected raw materials, working with close to 3,000 farmers.
Benefits to farmers
Farmers under this arrangement will now be assured of a market for what they produce. Currently, cassava tubers have less market due to the fact they are highly perishable and there are no facilities for primary processing at farm level.