LANGO – Frustrated by poor local yields and wavering low crop prices, farmers in the Northern districts of Kwania, Apac, Lira, Kole and Dokolo are switching to the high value Hass Avocado to rake in higher profits.
Farmers united under Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ SACCO have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with Lango Hass Avocado, a Non-Governmental Organization, to grow Hass Avocado in Lango sub region.
It is more popular in East Africa and is grown for export and draws good market prices in Europe.
It is high in protein and minerals. It is used mainly in the making of cosmetics, more-so in the manufacture of facial and hair oil, according to experts.
About 2,500 members of Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ SACCO from the districts of Kwania, Apac, Lira, Kole and Dokolo have agreed to a pact to grow Hass Avocado on large scale for export, largely to boost incomes and shore up their savings.
Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ SACCO, formerly called Arocha Farmers’ Group, was formed in 2008 and is located in Kidilani parish, Chegere Sub County, in Apac district.
The 10-year project will see Lango Hass Avocado distribute 400 Hass Avocado seedlings to each SACCO member at about Shs 400,000 per acre to be repaid in installments. According to the MOU, the organization will then buy the avocado from the farmers at Shs 20,000 per kilogram.
A farmer is expected to harvest 87,780 fruits per acre. That is approximately between 2500-3000 kilograms.
Sam Ongebo, the coordinator of Lango Hass Avocado, said harvesting Hass Avocado can go on for over 15 years. Harvests start one year after planting. A farmer can get between Shs 20-30 million annually from an acre.
“Hass Avocados are mostly harvested from June to September. It is important to know how to identify the correct harvesting period because avocados are harvested raw and ripen off the tree. Harvest a few fruits and keep them in favorable conditions to ripen. If the fruits ripen evenly, then they are considered to have been mature,” he said.
He said they have started training farmers in growing the crop and fight diseases.
Nelson Adeka, the Abulomogo SACCO chairman, is optimistic Hass Avocado farming will boost members’ savings and increase their loan portfolio from Shs 560m to an estimated Shs 3 billion.
“The development will boost our loan portfolio to at least Shs 3 billion. I call upon farmers to address the issue of poor-quality harvests by planting their seedlings in time and deal with post-harvest handling challenges in order to boost the marketability of their produce,” he said.
Gloria Eleny, a resident of Adyeda Trading Center in Aduku Sub County, Kwania district, said she has been planting maize for the last eight years but is disappointed with the yield and the price fluctuation. With Hass Avocado, Eleny believes her life will improve.
Bonny Obete, a resident of Abur Parish in Kole district, is worried that without modern agricultural equipment like tractors, tarpaulins and modern storage facilities, most farmers might not reap big due to poor quality.
Hass Avocado is one of the strategic crops the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has prioritized to increase food, nutrition, income security and improve the country’s export.
Records in the MAAIF show that export earnings from Hass Avocado have steadily increased from 6,000 tons in 2004/5 to 24,008 tons in 2014/15. Currently, About 15,000 farmers in the Lango sub region have been registered to grow of Hass Avocado.
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