By Patrick Jaramogi
Lira, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| Any significant economic growth in Africa must include the agriculture sector, which, in most African countries, Uganda inclusive, is to date, the most important economic sector employing over half of the labour force, most of which are smallholder farmers.
Clean Energy Partnership Africa (CEPA) is undertaking the initiatives to support smallholder farmers in Uganda to meet this economic growth by having an all-year-round crop production.
David Ebong the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of CEPA Uganda notes that over 2,000 farmers have been identified in Lango sub-region and trained on how to adapt to the increased climatic changes, improve on their household incomes by producing hybrid and fast-growing crops such as vegetables that are on high demand on the global market.
“With support from other partners, we have set up the Agriculture Mechanization Services and Training Center (AMSC) in Apac. This is a rural logistics center planned to support thousands of farmers in Lango,” said Ebong.
He said the farmers within a radius of 30- 50 km from Apac, Kole, Lira, Dokolo, Amolatar, Alebtong and Oyam will be supported.
“We shall support farmers organised under cooperatives to gain skills on increasing their crop production, growing vegetables for export and rice growing,” said Ebong
Rice Growing scheme launched
So far at least 2,000 farmers in Apac district are already being supported to grow rice.
The farmers are from Akokoro, Cawente, Nambyeso, Ibuje, Maruzi and Awila.
Ebong said CEPA is supporting the farmers through a partnership between, FOL Logistics, Equity Bank and Tulima Solar Group, which is supplying solar-powered irrigation pumps.
“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,” said David Ebong the former Legislator for Maruzi county in Apac district.
Why Rice out-growers scheme?
Rice is still considered the most consumed food and cash crop in Uganda with consumption statistics standing at over 225, 000 metric tonnes per annum. Uganda has been importing 110,000 metric tonnes of rice from Pakistan.
“Zeus Agro Limited, part of the FOL Logistics and Kingdom rice, hitherto the largest importers of rice in Uganda are now the largest local rice growers in Uganda. They have 17 sq. mile rice farm in Bulambuli with a capacity of producing 200,000 metric tonnes of rice annually. But despite all this, the demand for rice is still high and keeps increasing in the region,” said Mohammed Ahmed the Managing Director of Zeus Agro Limited.
Elizabeth Rumanyika, the director for strategic planning at FOL Logistics told farmers during a sensitization seminar at Mayonzi Hotel in Apac that they will provide fast yielding and hybrid rice seeds to the farmers, as well as agro-based inputs such as fertilizers, farm machinery and post-harvest handling of the crops.
“The farmers need not worry, because after harvesting the rice, we shall pay them cash for the rice and deduct what they borrowed from the banks. The issue of the market is sorted,” she said.
She noted that the Bulambuli farm will produce 200,000 metric tonnes of rice annually, but they need to produce at least 700,000 metric tonnes with support from the out-growers so as to meet their target of supplying the rice demand in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan.