AMURU – Sugarcane out-growers in the northern district of Amuru have broken with tradition – they have added cashew nuts to their outgrowing enterprise.
Atiak Sugarcane out-growers Cooperative Society Limited has grown and supplied sugarcane to Atiak Sugar Factory in Amuru district since its formation in 2016.
However, this year, the cooperative has added cashew nut growing to conserve the environment and swell their purse too.
Cashew nuts are handy drought-resistant perennial trees that take three years to bear fruit and harvests begin at eight years. There are new breeds though, such as the dwarf cashew nuts, which bear fruit within a year and harvests begin after three years.
Joyce Santa Laker, the chairperson of the cooperative, said farmers took on cashew nuts to conserve the environment.
“Cashew nuts are trees, so planting them is like reforestation, which protects the environment against harsh weather. Besides, when mature, the fruits can be harvested for more than 30 years, which will give the cooperative a stable source of income,” Laker said.
The sugarcane outgrowers cooperative has planted 40 acres of cashew nuts in Omoro, Gulu and Amuru districts. The seedlings were supplied by Operation Wealth Creation, OWC, through NAADs.
In 2017, President Museveni directed the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries to include cashew nuts among the main commodities to improve the livelihood of small holder farmers.
In Acholi, large scale cashew nuts growing began in 2018 after President Museveni met some farmers in Amuru and touted the commercial viability of the crop.
After the meeting, the president allowed farmers to travel to Tanzania, where cashew nuts are massively grown, to learn more. Since then numerous farmers in Acholi sub region have gotten cashew nuts seedings from Operation Wealth Creation to open up large farms.
Through the National Agricultural Advisory Services, the government allocated Shs 1bn for the procurement of improved cashew nut seedlings. In 2019, at least 166,960 seedlings were procured and distributed to demonstration farmers who planted 2,000 acres in 28 districts in the sub regions of; Karamoja, Acholi, Westnile, Teso and Lango.
Cashew nuts is used for manufacturing varnishes, paints, typewriter rolls, oil cloths, gum and water proof papers, among others. It has nutritional benefits too, such as magnesium, protein, manganese, zinc, copper and potential source of vitamin C.
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