NWOYA –Slumping crop prices have shifted farming in the northern district of Nwoya to the high-priced cashew nut.
The district recently received 5,714 cashew nut seedlings from the government’s Operation Wealth Creation program.
Interviewed for this story, Lt. Colonel Alfred Olak, the Operation Wealth Creation Coordinator Nwoya district, told theCooperator that seedlings are given to farmers with prepared gardens.
“We have also prioritized cashew nuts among the enterprises that we give to our people. Cashew nut is a high-value crop that can fetch a lot of money if a farmer takes good care of it. This is not a cheap crop,” Olak said.
Omony Denis, a local farmer in Anaka Town Council, Nwoya district, said he received 120 seedlings, which he has planted and expects to start harvesting in two years.
“I am told one can harvest cashew nuts for several years so I am taking these cashew nut seedlings as my retirement package,” said Omony, who initially planned to plant eucalyptus trees.
He said he was advised to space the planting by 7X7, 8X8, 9X9, or 10X10 meters.
Cana Brian, another farmer in Tochi village, Koch Goma Sub County, said he began eyeing cashew nuts after realizing they are pricey.
He received 280 seedlings, which he planted on five acres.
Cana has been growing jackfruits and mangoes. “I got interested in cashew nuts after seeing how expensively they are sold in supermarkets.”
A 75 grams packet of cashew nuts is sold at Shs 6,000 in most supermarkets in Gulu.
Alfred Kilama, the district agricultural officer, said cashew nut growing is not entirely new in the district because some commercial farmers and a few individuals have already planted the crop.
“Some commercial and individual farmers got the cashew nuts two years ago from the National Agricultural Research Organization-NARO under the National Agricultural Advisory Services-NAADS and have planted cashew nuts on large scale. One commercial farmer has 200 acres of Cashew trees, which have started flowering,” he said.
“We have demonstration farms where farmers who have planted cashew nuts can go and get knowledge on how to take care of the trees. If they take good care of the cashew nuts, then they should be able to flower after two years,” Kilama added.
Asked how big the cashew market is, the agriculture officer said the nuts will be supplied to processing factories in districts like Soroti, Kiryandongo, and Kampala.
The challenge is farmers have to keep pests and diseases at bay and ensure that they give the trees enough manure, Kilama said.
He said plans are underway to organize farmers into cooperative groups.
Kakuru Timonthy, a system administrator at the Operation Wealth Creation secretariat in Kampala, said the cashew nut was introduced as an enterprise in the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) program in 2019.
He said beneficiary districts include; Katakwi, Nwoya, Kapelebyong, Bulambuli, Kaberamaido, Soroti, Bukedea, Kumi, Amuru, Napak, Nakasongola, and Serere.
Buy your copy of theCooperator magazine from one of our countrywide vending points or an e-copy on emag.thecooperator.news