AMURU, Uganda: Government is giving away seedlings to Sugar cane farmers in the districts of Gulu, Lamwo, Amuru and Adjumani to forestall an anticipated food scarcity in the Atiak sub-region, theCooperator has learnt.
The farmers, grouped under their cooperative -Atiak Sugar Plantation Out Growers Co-operative Society Limited(ASOGCSL), are predominantly commercial Sugarcane growers, with very limited participation in food crop production.
Now, The Cooperator has established that the National Agricultural Advisory Services(NAADS) through Operation Wealth Creation(OWC) has released 10 tons of high quality beans for the cooperative’s members, to grow and avert a food crisis in the area.
ASOGCSL has over 4070 members, 80 percent of whom are women. The other 20 percent are men, majority of whom are ex- LRA combatants.
Speaking to the Cooperator during one of the seed distribution exercises in Pupwonya and Pabbo parishes in Amuru, the cooperative board chairperson, M/s Joyce Santa Laker hailed government for coming in to support the vulnerable women with agricultural inputs:
“This (issuance of seeds) to the women members under our cooperatives is a good boost towards addressing the challenge of food shortages in northern Uganda. As they concentrate on sugar cane growing for commercial purposes, they will also get time to grow food for home consumption,” she said.
Each member household is to get 10kgs of bean seeds, theCooperator has learnt. “We shall distribute 5 tons in Lamwo and Gulu and another 5 tons in Amuru and Adjumani. Each pack of 10kgs can be planted in one acre of land within the Sugar cane plantations. A total of 1000 families will get the improved bean seeds,” said Laker.
In the past, questions have abounded about the quality of seedlings supplied by OWC, with some alleging that some seedlings do not germinate, while others have suggested that released inputs do not reach intended beneficiaries.
But the beneficiaries that thecooperator talked to, acknowledged that the seeds had germinated with the start of the rain season. “We’re planting the beans within our sugarcane plantations, and they are growing well,” said Rose Ageno, one of the beneficiaries from Amuru district.
In 2014, government inaugurated OWC to complement and improve efficiency of the NAADs program. OWC was charged with the oversight function of monitoring, evaluation and effective coordination of service delivery of both inputs and progressive growth, while NAADS remained in charge of the procurement process of the necessary inputs.
Agriculture remains the backbone of Uganda’s economy, significantly contributing to national food security and nutrition, job creation and incomes for the majority of the population.
The sector currently employs 73% of the total labour force (formal and informal), 77% of whom are women, and 63% youth, mostly residing in the rural areas. In its 2015/16-2019/20 strategic plan, the sector (Agriculture) identified four priority intervention areas namely: increasing production and productivity; addressing challenges in the selected thematic technical areas including provision of critical farm inputs, mechanization and water for agricultural production; improving agricultural markets and value addition in the 12 prioritized commodities; and institutional strengthening for agricultural development.