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Nebbi cassava factory lies idle due to high running costs

NEBBI, March 5, 2024 – Members of Yesu-Dit Cooperative Society Limited in Parombo Sub-county, Nebbi district have abandoned their cassava factory due to high running costs.

According to some members of the cooperative, the cassava processing plant which was established under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme [ACDP] and cost government Shs 270 million, is currently non-operational because diesel is expensive while the water source is far away.

They said the cooperative is yet to be connected to the national electricity grid, with the nearest pole being three kilometres away, same with the nearest water source.

Talking to this reporter, Louis Onen, Chairperson Yesu –Dit Cooperative Society said the processing plant which has the capacity to process 500 kilos of cassava per hour was also abandoned due to the high transport costs  incurred while sourcing cassava from distant out-growers.

Onen said government set up the cassava factory in Nebbi district  to improve the socio-economic status of cassava farmers. However, he said reduction of poverty among the cassava farmers may not be achieved since adding value to the cassava has stopped.

“Last year,  a group members of the cooperative planted over 20 acres of sweet cassava  variety, the recommended  variety to supply the factory, but members ended up selling  it  locally  because there was no fuel to run the milling machine,” he said.

According to him, the cooperative was formed three years ago  with the aim of boosting cassava production in Nebbi district. He said this will now not happen unless the factory gets connected to electricity and water supply networks.

One of the members of the cooperative, Nancy Micparwoth urged government and other stakeholders to assist so that the factory gets reliable electricity and water supply.

According to her, the cooperative has 1,200 members divided in 56 active groups to provide the cooperative with a constant supply of cassava.

“The cooperative is a few kilometres from DR-Congo and if well maintained, would fetch more business opportunities…we therefore urge the government to help us by getting us electricity and water,” she said.

In 2021, State Minister for Agriculture, Bwino Kyakulaga (C) inspected the cassava processing plant of the  cooperative in Nebbi district (File photo).

Onv her part, Joyce Piwa who is the Agricultural Officer for Nebbi district told this reporter that much as the district has trained more than 2,300 farmers in post-harvest handling practices to minimise losses, there is a need to connect more rural areas to electricity, and provision of dependable sources of water for industrial production.

She said out of five cassava factories that were established in the district, only Mer-Ber cassava factory has reliable supply of electricity and water for industrial production.

“The cassava factories are limping in the district because they are faced with numerous challenges that are beyond the capacity of their management. This calls for financial bailout from the Ministry of Agriculture so that the factories get reliable electricity and water,” she said, adding that expensive diesel is not good for the survival of any factory.

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