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MAAIF partners with Amuria district to boost oilseed production

AMURIA, February 12, 2024 – At least 25 farmer groups from Amuria district have been selected to pilot oilseed production under the National Oilseeds Project [NOSP].

The project is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF] and Ministry of Local Government [MoLG] with support from the International Fund for Agriculture Development [IFAD] and the Opec Fund for International Development [OFID].

The project is one of government’s initiatives to support farmers involved in oilseed production, value addition, but also includes infrastructure development such as constructing community access roads.

The project will be implemented this planting season in Abarilela, Apeduru, Olwa, Ogolai and Morunatuny sub-counties under three clusters targeting all actors in value addition chain.

The farmers under their groups will multiply certified soybean named Mak Soybean 3N and Mak Soybean 6N which researchers say are rich in oil content.

The species are the research works from Makerere University, according to Amuria District Agricultural Officer, Moses Okim Bunsen.

“The enterprise [local seed business group] is meant to boost oilseed production and therefore increased vegetable oil processing,” said Okim.

The project approaches and investments will commercialise the oilseed sector by empowering  smallholder farmers in the oilseeds sub-sector.

According to Okim, NOSP focuses on four main crops that include sunflower, soya beans, groundnuts and simsim production.

“The beneficiary farmers were selected based on; the concentration of smallholders growing oilseeds, conducive private sector-led pull factors, market-ready oilseeds groups leading the clustering approach,” he said.

Okim pointed out that the oil seed crops, which include, groundnuts, soya, sim sim [sesame], and sunflower, have been produced in northern and eastern Uganda as subsistence and commercial crops for eight decades.

“If the farmer groups multiply the oilseed, they can sell it to a company. Alternatively, they can sell the seed to farmers locally or regionally,” said Okim in an interview with this reporter.

Okim said the farmers would be supported with skills, foundation seed and extension services from time to time during the different production stages.

“This type of soybean is tolerant to drought, rich in oil content, and has little shuttering on the farm. The farmers must plant and produce under close observation from the technical officials from the ministry of Agriculture to ensure quality and standards.”

He explained that the farmers groups are required to keep records throughout the production stages from time of planting, weeding, spraying, harvesting, storage and selling.

Moses Okim Bunsen, the Amuria District Agricultural Officer talking to theCooperator (Photo by Alexander Okori).

Okim said once the processes of production are up to the standards set by MAAIF, the seeds are then declared as “quality seed with a green label.”

Quality seed are deemed second to certified seed, which are produced by registered companies with technical expertise.

Godfrey Elubu of Aduka a Farmers Group in Ogolai Sub-county says they are ready to use the project to improve incomes.

“We welcome the project. Last year we were affected by drought but we are hopeful we shall produce better harvest this year.”

He said they have prepared four acres for soybean production. Okim however told this reporter that some farmers are lazy and less cooperative.

Meanwhile, Christopher Gumisiriiza, the project manager said the project involves building resilient infrastructure that promotes sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation along the oilseeds value chain.

This project is designed to build on the successes of the predecessor project, the Vegetable Oil Development Project [VODP] Phase II which ran from 2010-2018,” he stated.

Gumisiriiza highlighted that NOSP’s investments are geared towards the commercialisation of the oilseed sector, with the smallholder farmers being able to earn more incomes.

The project approaches and investments will commercialise the oilseed sector by capacitating and empowering the smallholder farmers in the oilseeds sub-sector.

This will result in Uganda lowering the trade deficit through increased export of both raw oil seeds and and by-products, improving foreign exchange earnings and most importantly, improving the wealth and welfare of smallholders in Uganda.

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