Cashew nut farmers have reason to celebrate after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to develop the crop’s value chain on Wednesday this week.
Representing government at the signing was Henry Aggrey Bagiire, the Minister of State for Agriculture while growers of the highly prized crop were represented by the Uganda Cashew nut and Trees Limited, under which they are organised.
The partnership is expected to boost cashew nut production and promote trade in Ugandan Cashew products both locally and internationally.
In addition, under the MoU, more than 300,000 cashew seedlings are to be supplied to farmers in 42 districts countrywide, particularly in the country’s cattle corridor and in other dry areas.
Although Africa accounts for a significant percentage of the global cashew nut production, Uganda’s own contribution to this figure remains meagre. Today, most cashew production is carried out by small-scale farmers in Eastern and Northern Uganda.
This despite the fact that the country enjoys a long history of promoting the crop, starting in the 1970s. Due to several factors, the cashew nut industry collapsed in early 1980s until its revival in 2004.
However, given its high demand on the international market, Cashew has been identified as a possible source of income for small holder farmers in addition to bringing in much needed export earnings.
Recognising this potential, President Museveni in October 2017 directed that cashew nut be added to the country’s priority commodities, and an engagement be initiated between MAAIF and the Uganda Cashew nut and Trees Limited to develop a cashew nut Value Chain.
Cashew nut is widely celebrated for its nutritional benefits, especially for being rich in both proteins and minerals. It is also used in the manufacture of various industrial products including varnishes, tiles, gum, cements and so on.