Karamoja sunflower farmers ask govt for value addition facility

SOROTI, March 1, 2024 – Sunflower farmers in the Karamoja Sub-region have asked government to build them a facility for value addition so that they can earn more money from the oilseed.

According to Betty Akol Lochap, an entrepreneur and sunflower farmer in Napak district, communities in Karamoja grow plenty of sunflower, but most of it is bought by middlemen and transported to Soroti in the neighbouring Teso Sub-region for value addition.

“Lorries come here [Soroti] full of sunflower and most of it is grown in Napak, so if we can have an oil factory here it [Napak], it would motivate people to produce more sunflower,” Akol said.

Akol was speaking at Soroti Hotel days ago during a sensitisation meeting of women entrepreneurs from Teso and Karamoja districts about the new Generating Growth Opportunities and Productivity for Women Enterprises [GROW] project.

Besides, Akol also appealed to government to support them with tractors to help them engage in large-scale production.

Mary Kevin Asio, another farmer from Karamoja said middlemen who buy sunflower from the farmers cheat them through offering low prices.

“We wish government would support us we would be able to produce our sunflower and package it,” she said.

She said that if the oil-processing factory is built in Karamoja, its unemployed youth will be able to get jobs.

In a brief interview with this reporter on the sidelines of the GROW Project sensitisation meeting, the Minister of state for Gender and Culture,  Hellen Grace Asamo, said value addition is of the business enterprises that the project supported by the World Bank targets and it would be good for Karamoja to produce oil from the sunflower it grows.

She added: “Adding value to the sunflower is what will make women entrepreneurs to grow in their businesses faster,” Minister Asamo said, adding that what is needed is infrastructural development

The minister encouraged women to organise themselves in groups so that they can be supported easily.

On her part, Hadija Faridah Kibowa, Chairperson National Women Council, appreciated women for their efforts to fend for their families.

She advised the women entrepreneurs to continue growing their businesses and embrace technology, saying it will boost their competitive advantage, and and growth.

She urged all women entrepreneurs to encourage other women to join the GROW project, saying it is meant to uplift the livelihoods of women in Uganda, including refugees.

The GROW project aims at increasing access to entrepreneurial services that enables female entrepreneurs to grow their enterprises.

6,000 women entrepreneurs in the districts of Teso and Karamoja are expected to benefit from the a US$ 217 million [over Shs 802 billion] project.

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