Lango Farmers Turn To Hass Avocado

LANGO – Frustrated by poor local yields and wavering low crop prices, farmers in the Northern districts of Kwania, Apac, Lira, Kole and Dokolo are switching to the high value Hass Avocado to rake in higher profits.

Farmers united under Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ SACCO have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with Lango Hass Avocado, a Non-Governmental Organization, to grow Hass Avocado in Lango sub region.

It is more popular in East Africa and is grown for export and draws good market prices in Europe.

It is high in protein and minerals. It is used mainly in the making of cosmetics, more-so in the manufacture of facial and hair oil, according to experts.

About 2,500 members of Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ SACCO from the districts of Kwania, Apac, Lira, Kole and Dokolo have agreed to a pact to grow Hass Avocado on large scale for export, largely to boost incomes and shore up their savings.

Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ SACCO, formerly called Arocha Farmers’ Group, was formed in 2008 and is located in Kidilani parish, Chegere Sub County, in Apac district.

The 10-year project will see Lango Hass Avocado distribute 400 Hass Avocado seedlings to each SACCO member at about Shs 400,000 per acre to be repaid in installments. According to the MOU, the organization will then buy the avocado from the farmers at Shs 20,000 per kilogram.

A farmer is expected to harvest 87,780 fruits per acre. That is approximately between 2500-3000 kilograms.

Sam Ongebo, the coordinator of Lango Hass Avocado, said harvesting Hass Avocado can go on for over 15 years. Harvests start one year after planting. A farmer can get between Shs 20-30 million annually from an acre.

“Hass Avocados are mostly harvested from June to September. It is important to know how to identify the correct harvesting period because avocados are harvested raw and ripen off the tree. Harvest a few fruits and keep them in favorable conditions to ripen. If the fruits ripen evenly, then they are considered to have been mature,” he said.

He said they have started training farmers in growing the crop and fight diseases.

Nelson Adeka, the Abulomogo SACCO chairman, is optimistic Hass Avocado farming will boost members’ savings and increase their loan portfolio from Shs 560m to an estimated Shs 3 billion.

“The development will boost our loan portfolio to at least Shs 3 billion. I call upon farmers to address the issue of poor-quality harvests by planting their seedlings in time and deal with post-harvest handling challenges in order to boost the marketability of their produce,” he said.

Gloria Eleny, a resident of Adyeda Trading Center in Aduku Sub County, Kwania district, said she has been planting maize for the last eight years but is disappointed with the yield and the price fluctuation. With Hass Avocado, Eleny believes her life will improve.

Bonny Obete, a resident of Abur Parish in Kole district, is worried that without modern agricultural equipment like tractors, tarpaulins and modern storage facilities, most farmers might not reap big due to poor quality.

Hass Avocado is one of the strategic crops the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has prioritized to increase food, nutrition, income security and improve the country’s export.

Records in the MAAIF show that export earnings from Hass Avocado have steadily increased from 6,000 tons in 2004/5 to 24,008 tons in 2014/15. Currently, About 15,000 farmers in the Lango sub region have been registered to grow of Hass Avocado.

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SACCO Saving Kids With Nodding Syndrome

OMORO – Unsupported anymore by the government or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), parents of children battling the debilitating Nodding Syndrome in the northern district of Omoro have turned to saving groups to support their sick children.

Nodding syndrome, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a devastating neurological disorder of uncertain etiology described in African children. It was first documented in Tanzania in the 1960s, then later in South Sudan in the 1990s and in Northern Uganda in 2007.

About 33 women are currently leaning on Dii-Cwinyi Luc-Luc SACCO located in Te-Olam village, Odek Sub County in Omoro District to support their children.

Each member has between three to four children suffering from Nodding Syndrome, according to Grace Akello Layel, the chairperson of Dii-Cwinyi Luc-Luc SACCO.

Layel told theCooperator that members are growing soya beans and beans on a small scale to support their children.

“We also engage in petty trade in vegetables and sell locally brewed alcohol to get money to save every week,” she said, adding that members borrow from their pool of savings.

Layel however, said they need oxen and ox-ploughs to increase their productivity.

“These children need good feeding and medical care. Sometimes, when they fall sick, it becomes hard for members to keep saving because they have little money,” Layel said.

The group is also working to ensure that each member puts an iron sheet roof on her house to avoid unnecessary fires lit by their children in grass thatched huts.

“We were given Shs 700,000 by African Women Rising, an NGO, which we have loaned out to members and managed to generate Shs 5 million. We want to buy at least 10 iron sheets for each member to put a roof on the house,” she said.

Even in the face of the disruptive Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the group, which started in 2018, managed to save up to Shs 13.9 million last year.

Jimmy Kakamon, the LC-1 chairperson of Te-olam village, applauded the women for taking care of their children.

Okello Douglas Peter Okao, the LC-V chairperson of Omoro District, said the district has written to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) asking for 283 sets of oxen and ox-ploughs to help households affected by the Nodding Syndrome.

“We want the families affected by the Nodding Syndrome to be supported by oxen and ox-ploughs but the office of the OPM is yet to respond,” Okao said.

He said the district received 360 pieces of iron sheets last week from the OPM, which will be distributed to 18 most vulnerable families affected by the disease.

Nodding Syndrome has affected an estimated 1,834 children in Northern Uganda.

In 2017, Hope for Humans Centre, a Nodding Syndrome treatment center in Akoyo village, Odek Sub County, was closed due to lack of funds.

It was the only facility offering treatment and education to hundreds of children suffering from the illness – which affects the brain and the central nervous system of underage boys and girls, between the ages of five to 15.

The center was founded by Dr Suzan Gazda, an American neurologist and her friends in 2012.

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