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NAADS Distributes 76 Tons of Sunflower Seeds in Northern Uganda :: Uganda Radionetwork

NAADS Distributes 76 Tons of Sunflower Seeds in Northern Uganda

Over time, oil seed producers have raised concerns about the steep price of planting materials.
Members of Erute North County Oil Seed Farmer’s cooperative society ltd pose with their sunflower seeds

Audio 7

The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs) has launched the distribution of 76 metric tons of sunflower oil seeds to farmers in the Lango and Acholi sub-regions. The seeds have been allocated to 62 farmer cooperatives and 10 large-scale farmers under the co-funding initiative.

Under this initiative, farmers contribute 30 percent of the seed's cost, while the government covers the remaining 70 percent. Dr. Charles Aben, NAADS's Crop Development Officer, clarified that this seed distribution aligns with the government's intervention to enhance vegetable oil production, a venture that commenced in 2022. He emphasized that Uganda faces a shortage of vegetable oil, a challenge that can only be addressed by locally cultivating oil seeds.   

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Over time, oil seed producers have raised concerns about the steep price of planting materials. For instance, Patrick Olum, a notable sunflower producer, revealed he would purchase seeds from site coordinators linked to companies like Mukwano Group, spending between sixty-five to eighty thousand shillings. However, he would later sell the produce back to the same individuals for as little as eight hundred shillings per kilo, leading to substantial losses.

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Robert Adwek, Mukwano Industries' Field Operations Manager in Lira, explained that seed prices are demand-driven. He stated that Mukwano Industries cannot regulate the seed prices set by site coordinators who obtain seeds from them at a fixed cost. Yet, with the seed distribution initiative, farmers assert that this approach has spared them from the exorbitant seed prices prevalent in the open market.

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Josephine Aol, a member of the Ipara cooperative, expressed that the seed distribution will encourage more women to engage in farming due to the affordability of the seeds, consequently enhancing their household income. 

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Samuel Ojok, the chairperson of the Erute North County Oil Seed Farmer's Cooperative Society, highlighted that these seeds will also enable the cooperative to assist farmers in securing favorable markets for their produce. 

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Nonetheless, William Abili, a member of the Erute North County Cooperative urged the government to consider providing farm tools and soft loans to the cooperatives to bolster their production capabilities. 

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In response, Dr. Aben disclosed plans to aid the cooperatives in producing oil from their crops instead of selling them solely to manufacturers. He noted that this project primarily targets cooperatives in the two sub-regions, as they are generally more organized.

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Among the cooperatives already benefiting from the sunflower seed distribution are the Erute North County Oil Seed Farmer's Cooperative Society Ltd and the Agali Farmers' Cooperative Society in Lira district. The Alito Joint Farmers' Cooperative Society Ltd in Kole district and the Ipara Cooperative in Dokolo district are also among the beneficiaries.