Heavy Rains Worry Cassava Farmers

PADER – The unrelenting heavy rains battering Pader District are threatening to wipe out the livelihoods of cassava farmers in the northern district.

Cassava farmers allied to Acholi- bur Cooperative Society in Pader district are worried their crop will rot in the ground.

Farmers say when the rains started many had not uprooted their cassava from the farmlands.

“We cannot uproot now, the rains are too much and we have no better provisions for drying it so that it is sold,” Robert Okumu, the chairman of Acholi Bur Cooperative society, told theCooperator in a recent interview.

There are cassava varieties that last for only one and half years under the ground and if not uprooted in time, they rot, Okumu said.

Cassava is the biggest income earner for the cooperative farmers and if it’s not harvested in time, Okumu says, his people will lose millions of shillings.

The 600-member cooperative also grows soya-beans and groundnuts.

David Ogutu, a member of the cooperative, said the seasonal market is partly to blame.

“Imagine we are depending on only one buyer, that is Bukona Agro Processors, but if we had other factories in the region, we would have a choice. ” he said.

“The rains are too much and we do not have better technology for drying cassava at the moment. Some farmers got loans and one wonders how they will be able to pay back,” he said.

“We have reached out to the district leadership and discussed how best they can lobby and get for us drying machines that can help in the rainy season but we haven’t gotten any positive response,” he added.

Alfred Abaloker, the District Commercial Officer, said his office has lobbied but failed to get the Ministry of Agricultural and Animal Industry to help the farmers.

“It’s a big challenge to the farmers but my office cannot handle it alone. We requested for a machine that can help them (farmers) have their cassava dried during the rainy season so that they don’t incur losses but we have never been helped.” he said.

“We were given only tractors so that farmers can open big chunks of land,” he said.

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