Hundreds of farmers in Acoli and Lango sub regions have received training on Rosemary growing from Special Anointing Oil, SAO-Uganda, an NGO that promotes growth of the popular herb around the country.
Rosemary is a perennial evergreen herb with blue flowers and minty, piney aroma. Native to the Mediterranean, it is now naturalised in East Africa.
In August this year, SAO-Uganda started training farmers interested in growing Rosemary in Lango sub-region.
Peter Otim, a farmer in Atuku town Council in Kwania district, is among the farmers who received training in growing the medicinal plant.
Otim told theCooperator that about at least 26 farmers in his area underwent the training, and more are showing interest in joining.
“I took interest in the plant because I learned about its numerous medicinal benefits. Secondly, the plant is drought-, pest- and disease-resistant,” he said.
Otim, who confessed that he first heard about Rosemary during the training, plans to dedicate two acres of land to growing the herb because he is convinced that he will get good returns from the venture.
“Besides, the company that trained us will buy the harvest, so I won’t have to worry about marketing it,” he added.
Pascal Osire, the Northern Uganda Regional Coordinator SAO-Uganda observes that the company trained farmers in all districts in Lango and Acoli sub-regions, except Amolatar, Dokolo and Amuru districts. The company expects to recruit 36 farmers per district after the training.
“Planting of the crop will start next season. Right now, we are training farmers and preparing their mindset. Next month we will be able to know how many people per village are willing to do the Rosemary growing,” Osire said.
“We want to recruit community investors who will be in charge of our projects in each district, then ambassadors at the parish level, for effective communication, reporting and quick response when a farmer needs assistance,” he added.
Osire said the company is drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed by the farmers on acquisition of seedlings and marketing.
Under the proposed MoU, the company would supply farmers with seedlings on credit, which would then be paid for by the farmers in two instalments.
Osire said a farmer requires 6,000 seedlings of Rosemary to cover an acre of garden, which will be sold to them at Shs 1000 each. Other dealers in Rosemary seedlings, he says, sell each seedling at Shs 5,000.
“This implies that if a farmer wants to plant an acre, they will need Shs 6m. But we are giving the seedlings on credit because most of our farmers can’t raise Shs 6m at once,” he said.
“This will motivate the farmers take care of the crop well, knowing that they have a debt to pay,” Osire said.
Harvesting and marketing
Osire said the first harvest of Rosemary is done after 6-7 months, with a minimum yield of 1500 kilograms per acre, which is then sold at Shs 5000 per kilogram.
“That means a farmer will get Shs 7.5 million in the first harvest, and the same amount after subsequent harvests that will be done after every four months, for five years,” Osire said.
“However, when one does value addition, by for instance drying the Rosemary, they get between Shs 11-12m per harvest,” he said.
Osire noted farmers’ concerns over marketability of the product, but assured them that under the proposed MoU to be signed with the farmers, SAO-Uganda would commit to buying all the their Rosemary harvests.
According to Osire, the company chose the Rosemary project after researching on and learning of its numerous health benefits.
“We found that it [Rosemary] heals many diseases. So, we want farmers to grow it and we make herbal medicine out of them. We can make 40 products out of Rosemary,” he said.
In addition to being used to treat headaches, poor circulation, depression, muscle cramps, to detoxify and boost the immune system, Rosemary is also used in the kitchen for food seasoning.
Osire said the company recently installed a machine for processing Rosemary oil in Kyengera.
“When we start using that machine, we will need about 10 tonnes of Rosemary every day,” he said.
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