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Farmers in Northern Uganda Abandon Old Cash Crops For Cashew Nuts

In Lango sub region, cashew nuts is the latest addition after citrus fruits, mangoes, soy beans, pineapples and coffee introduced by the same agency and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) few years ago.
Cashew Nut Trees

Audio 4

Farmers in Northern Uganda are abandoning traditional cash crops Cotton and Tobacco for new cash crop varieties being promoted by the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS).         

In Lango sub-region, cashew nuts is the latest addition after citrus fruits, mangoes, soya beans, pineapples and coffee introduced by NAADS and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) few years ago.         

Cashew nut is the latest addition on the list of new perennial cash crops introduced to the region attracting huge demands from farmers. In Lira, Kwania and Kole districts alone, more than 150 farmers have opted to grow the fruit tree with high optimism to economically reap from it in the next four years.       

Florence Alwoch Obong, a peasant farmer in Amwa village in Ayer Sub County in Kole district says she was persuaded to enrol for cashew nut agribusiness initiative by extension services attached to NAADS.       

//Cue in: “I have received 100 seedlings…         

Cue out: “…to collect the cashew nuts”//       

Obong is one of the 150 farmers who received cashew seedlings under the government poverty alleviation programme, OWC. She hopes the 26 stems surviving in her two acre garden are sufficient to support her two young children through school.       

Obong says she suffered too much depending on seasonal crops to see her two daughters through university after their father died three years ago. She says poverty pushed her daughter out of a plumbing course she was perusing in Kigumba, Kiryandongo District.      

Ken Allan Owani, the Senior Quarters LCIV Councillor in Lira Municipal Council says he planted 320 stems of cashew nuts in Apumi Village in Inomo Sub County in Kwania district after intensive internet research convinced him of the economic and health benefits of the cash crop.         

//Cue Out: “You can grow this…       

Cue Out: “…is sold at 20,000 a kilo”//         

The cash crops enter the region at a critical time when production of her traditional cash crops Cotton and Tobacco are at their all-time low due to climate change and low pricing on the domestic market.           

David Opio, the chairperson Lira Fruit Farmers Association says they mobilized farmers to embrace cashew nuts farming to add premium value to the region after Cotton consistently fetch low prices for farmers.

 According to Opio, their intention is to make Lango sub region the leading fruits producing region feeding the Soroti fruit factory. He says with another fruit factory being set up in Nwoya district, the region's market potential is screaming for fruits supply.   

//Cue in: “This cashew nut….     

Cue out: “….planted this one”//       

Patrick Elip, the Lira District Agriculture Officer says the demand for cashew is informed by a research which indicated that there is ready market in Uganda and beyond. He says the crop can last 50 years when producing high-quality fruits.     

//Cue in: “There was a research….     

Cue out: “….beyond this district”//     

Elip says more than 600 farmers have planted the fruit tree in groups for ease of marketing.       

President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly blamed the high poverty rate in Northern Uganda on the lack of perennial cash crops. He says dependence on seasonal crops will not propel communities in the region beyond the poverty trap.       

Khadijah Nakakande, the Head of Public Relations and Communication in National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) Secretariat says the country has been zoned for promotions of different enterprises.       

Elip says cashew but is known to do well in shallow soils such as those found in Mango Sub-region. He says the fruit can be eaten as snacks for its nutritive values. In Kagome Total Supermarket, a pack of cashew nut snack is sold at 3,000 and 6,000 respectively.       

Northern Uganda is one of the regions with very high poverty burden in Uganda with prevalence put at 24 percent by various statistics.