Farmers from Lango and Acholi sub-regions applauded the Government for the support extended to them to increase the production of oil crops in the region.
The government released Shs9 billion in the current financial year to the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) to promote the production of oil crops specifically sunflower and soya beans.
The move is aimed at mitigating the vegetable oil shortages caused by the effects of Covid-19 and the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia which has caused global prices for edible oils to soar posing a big threat to the livelihoods of many Ugandans.
The same has affected the prices of other homecare products like soap, cosmetics, and others that use vegetable oil as a raw material.
To address the challenge, the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and NAADS, working with the District Local Governments in the two regions mobilized farmers to grow oil crops for import substitution.
The farmers were provided with improved sunflower and soya bean seeds to scale up production.
With Shs9bn, NAADS procured and distributed 75 tons of improved sunflower seed and 500 tons of soya bean seed to the selected farmer-beneficiaries.
In this intervention, the Government is working with farmer cooperatives and large-scale (nucleus) farmers under a co-funding arrangement.
Government contributes 70 percent of the cost of the seed while the farmers pay the remaining 30 percent which is remitted after the harvest. NAADS signed MOUs with the beneficiary cooperatives and nucleus farmers who committed to pay 30 percent of the cost of the seed.
29 farmer cooperatives and 33 nucleus farmers have benefitted from this intervention. The farmers who received the sunflower and soya bean seed at the beginning of September 2022 are expecting their harvest at the end of December 2022.
During a visit by NAADS officials to monitor the implementation of the project, the beneficiary farmers said the seed given to them by NAADS was of good quality and they are expecting to count money come end of December.
32-year-old Okori Ronald, a resident of Alel village in Ocanyang parish, Agali Sub-county in Lira district, said he received 3 kilograms of panna sunflower seed which he planted on one and half acres.
“Am expecting to harvest 1,000 kilograms of sunflower grain. After paying the 30 percent of the cost of the seed I received, I plan to use the remaining money from the sale of sunflower grain to buy some oxen to help me in my farming business,” said Okori.
Prosper Maphosa, the general manager of Amatheon Agri Uganda, a large-scale farmer in Nwoya district said the Government intervention interested them to venture into sunflower farming at a large scale.
“When Government offered to pay 70 percent of the cost of seed, we took a decision to grow sun flower for the first time. We received 75,000 kilograms of sunflower seed which we planted on 750 acres and 500 metric tons of soya bean which we planted on 1,700 acres. So far the sunflower is doing very well and we already have a buyer who is taking everything we have planted,” explained Maphosa
Lydia Akello from Agali Farmers’ Cooperative in Lira district received 3 kilograms of sunflower seed. She appreciated government for helping farmers with subsidized seed saying the high cost of seed has always been a challenge to many farmers and the reason why most farmers grow oil crops on small scale.
The national vegetable oil consumption in Uganda annually is 480 million MT, of this only 80,000 MT is produced locally with the rest of the requirements imported. The aim of the intervention is to produce at least 40 million MT of oil per year locally.