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Five cooperative-owned cassava factories nearing completion in Nebbi district

Five cassava mini factories worth over Shs 3bn are nearing completion in Nebbi District.

The mini-factories are part of a bid to increase production, productivity and value addition of cassava in the region.

Construction of the factories was commissioned by teams from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in May this year under the project component of Agriculture Cluster Development project (ACDP).

Shs 3bn awarded to five local cooperative societies in Nebbi District for construction of cassava factories  is part of Shs 34bn that government received from World Bank (WB) to support 118 farmer organizations in 24 pilot Districts under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project across the country, with the aim of improving livelihoods through economic transformation.

The government through the ACDP is contributing 67% (equivalent to Shs 23.4 bn), while the beneficiary Farmer Groups are tasked to contribute 33% (Shs 11.5 bn).

Yafesi Ogwang, the Assistant Commissioner, Agri-business, at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), in remarks made during the commission of the cassava factories in Nebbi, noted that  the purpose of awarding mini cassava factories to local cooperative societies across the country was to promote commercialization of cassava production through value addition.

He urged farmers to invest in production of sweet cassava varieties which have a global market.

“We don’t encourage our farmers to plant the old traditional cassava varieties which have toxic acid and are harmful to human health but plant sweet cassava varieties such as Nasser 14-19 which has a ready market”, Ogwang said.

Ogwang said the objective of ACDP is to raise on-farm production, productivity, and marketable volumes of Cassava, Beans, Rice, Coffee and Maize in the 12 geographical clusters. It is hoped that improved agricultural practices will benefit farmers by eradicating poverty through use of improved seed varieties.

He said the beneficiaries of the cassava factories project in Nebbi District were: Mer-ber cooperative society, Yesu dit Farmers’ Cooperative, Kud Iol farmers’ saving groups, Parombo Multi stakeholders and Aratarach farmers’ cooperative.

Meanwhile, James Kerchan, one of the farmers from Nebbi sub County, Kaalwang parish says he has a two acre-plantation of mature Nasser-19 cassava, but has no market for it.

Kerchan says that he spent over Shs 3m on his cassava plantation but has not has not recovered part of his investment due to challenges finding market for his produce.

However, he is optimistic that his fortunes will improve once the new cassava factories begin operations.

“I see signs of benefitting from my cassava because I have the sweet cassava varieties that have been recommended to supply the factory. I know my money will come to me any time,” Kerchan said.

Constance Onencan, the chairman Mer Ber cooperative society Nebbi, advised farmers in the district to focus on commercializing cassava and producing sweet cassava varieties on a large scale so as to meet the factory demand.

He said that the cooperative would engage its farmers in buying and selling of their own products of sweet cassava and package the cassava flour to meet the competitive market.

”Mer-Ber cooperative is committed to buying produce from its members to avoid challenges of member groups being exploited by middlemen who may take advantage of  the ignorance of the farmers by buying their products at low price,” he said.

Onencan revealed that Mer-Ber cooperative society has procured a cassava washing machine, peeler, slicing, hummer milling machine, bagging, drying slab and batch dryer, all geared to equip the mini-factory to meet farmers’ demand for value chains.

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