Farmers in different cooperatives in Lango Sub Region are set to benefit from a recently introduced rice out growers scheme. At least 2,000 farmers in Apac district, have been supported to start growing rice more than 20,000 acres of land spread in Cawente, Maruzi, Nambyeso, and Ibuje.
The farmers will be further supported through a partnership between Clean Energy Partnership Africa (CEPA) Uganda, FOL Logistics, Tulima Solar Group and Equity Bank.
CEPA will provide the training and rice bulking, FOL Logistics will offer seeds and agro inputs and market, Tulima Solar will provide solar irrigation pumps, while Equity bank will provide loans to the rice growers.
Roselyn Atim, a member of Ibuje Sub-County Women’s SACCO and prospective beneficiary of the project, expressed her hope that it would help them boost their household incomes.
“We have been grappling with poverty in addition to challenges of bad weather, poor soils, and inadequate finances to grow rice on a large scale. We are happy these major issues are being addressed. Hopefully this will help us to increase our household incomes,” she said.
Atim was one of the hundreds of farmers being oriented on how best to grow rice and vegetables as a business during a meeting held at Apac Municipality recently.
Empowering Ugandan rice farmers
Speaking at the event, CEPA Chief Executive Officer, David Ebong, said rice growing is still a virgin area with good economic prospects for serious farmers.
“Rice consumption in Uganda stands at 225,000 metric tonnes annually, yet local production only amounts to 60,000 metric tonnes. To cover this gap, Uganda has been importing lots of rice from countries like Pakistan. We want to empower locals to take over this space,” he said.
Elizabeth Rumanyika, director for strategic planning at FOL Logistics told the farmers that the organization will avail them with fast yielding hybrid rice seeds, as well as agro based inputs such as fertilizers, farm machinery.
“There are about 35,000 rice farmers in Uganda today,” she said. “We need to train them, give them the best seeds and machinery, and tips on reducing post-harvest losses.”
Rumanyika further assured farmers of ready market for their produce.
“Farmers should not worry about finding market after harvesting the rice. We shall pay them in cash for all the rice they can supply. The issue of market is sorted,” she said.
Equity bank also pledged to support the farmers with credit.
James Odour the Equity Bank Manager Lira branch said the farmers will be given credit based on the records of farm businesses they have previously held, and priority would be given to those organized in SACCOs and other cooperatives.
Eventually, organisers hope to extend the training to other farmers in Apac, Kole, Dokolo, Amolatar, Erute, Alebtong and Oyam on the dynamics of rice growing.