GULU – The government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) has procured five tractors for Gulu Archdiocese for cassava production.
The support is channeled to Acholi Bur Cooperative; a pilot cassava production project established at Acholi Bur sub-county in Pader District under the stewardship of the Gulu Archdiocese.
The Executive Director, National Agricultural Advisory Services, Samuel Mugasi disclosed in a recent interview with theCooperator that the tractors were procured in 2020/2021 financial year.
His Grace John Baptist Odama, however, noted that the diocese had requested 10 tractors for supporting the cooperative farmers on commercialization and industrialization of cassava farming.
Odama further explained that the diocese equally asked the government to support the farmers with 400 bulls (oxen).
“I commend the government for the support but the focus should be on the commercialization of farming and industrialization if we are to fight poverty in the region,” Odama added.
Fr. Matthew Lagoro Okun, the Manager Acholi Bur Cooperative Society which is piloting the cassava commercialization and industrialization is hopeful for better outcomes of the project.
Lagoro disclosed that the cooperative has enrolled 9,000 farmers with 4,500 members from Pader district while others are scattered in the other 7 districts in Acholi sub-region.
He further revealed that the government has informed the diocese about the delivery of the tractors adding that each of the farmers is expected to plant two hectares of cassava this year.
“We are focusing on protecting the local farmers from exploitation by the middlemen and industrialization can play the role when cooperatives are strengthened,” Fr. Lagoro explained.
Toni Ocan, a member of Acholi Bur Cooperatives says that most of the members are struggling to find market for their products due to a lack of agro-processing plants for value addition.
Ocan explained that the members of the cooperative used to sell their products to the middlemen at cheaper prices calling it a demotivation in farming.
Ocan explained that the farmers are selling off a kilogram of dry cassava at Shs 200; the sale he says can improve to more than Shs 500 shillings when farmers are allowed to sell directly to the industry.
Jackie Akao, another cassava farmer in Gulu district at Palaro sub-county with 90 hectares of cassava plantation, has appealed to the government to establish an agro-processing industry in the region.
The Acholi Bur cassava commercialized production was launched in 2018 in Pader district as a model project for mass cassava production in Acholi sub-region under Gulu Archdiocese.
The report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries indicate that the government has spent Shs 8 billion to support cooperatives in the last four years.
At least Shs 2 billion was allocated in the 2018/2019 financial year; Shs 6 billion in the subsequent years while more Shs 3 billion was then allocated for cassava cuttings in this financial year.
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