Minister for Agriculture commissions two cassava factories in Nebbi

NEBBI – The State Minister for Agriculture, Fred Bwino Kyakulaga has commissioned two cassava factories in Nebbi district under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP).

The commissioned factories are among the five that were earmarked for boosting both local and international trade for cassava products.

The government hopes to improve the socio-economic status of cassava farmers in Nebbi by alleviating poverty through value additions and creating job opportunities in the community.

Previously, the poor quality of bitter cassava variety could not meet the market demand hence generating less interest from farmers.

Ms Juliet Abedirwoth, one of the farmers said, as members of the cooperatives, they will be the immediate beneficiaries of the factories because they will supply the factory directly with raw cassava to sustain the factories.

“According to the policies of the cooperative, members of the cooperative who are the shareholders in the cooperative have the direct link to benefit from the factories because roles and responsibilities of members are well spelt out and dividends are shared according to the number of shares,” Abedirwoth said.

Charity Awekonimungu, a member of Aratarach Cassava Cooperative said, she is now able to supply the factory with cassava from her own gardens since she plants the sweet varieties of NAROCASI recommended by MAAIF.

Ongeyowun Innocent, the Production Manager, Aratarach Cassava Cooperative says, employment and participation in the cooperative among the farmers is shared by gender, where women take 70% of the total population of 360 group members while men take 30%.

Mer-Ber and Aratarach Cooperatives are among the benefiting cooperatives in the district under the project of ACDP whose factories were commissioned by the State Minister for Agriculture amidst electricity and water challenges facing the cooperatives.

Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP) is a government program being implemented by Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in 57 selected districts across the country with financial support from World Bank and its mandate is to transform the local communities with high yielding cassava NASSER 19 and NAROCASI varieties.

According to the Minister, Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, cassava production in the West Nile region is considered to be one of the white golds which is cementing the foundations of the economy by empowering citizens towards better livelihoods.

Bwino says, ACDP is not the only effort being made by the government to alleviate poverty. He called on farmers to take advantage of the Parish Development Model (PDM) to increase the commercialization of cassava production and attach value addition for better economic benefits.

“Cassava is a white gold which gives other bi-products like starch which can be used to produce ethanol and if farmers are mobilized to grow cassava on a large scale, the bi products can boost the economy of the country,” Bwino said.

Levi Nyakuni, Nebbi district Production Officer said, much as cassava factories were commissioned to benefit farmers in the district, they need to plant more sweet cassava which is sustainable for the factories and urged farmers to go commercial.

“I’m hereby urging cassava farmers to think big and reap big from cassava production by planting the varieties which are recommended to supply the factories that are commissioned,” Nyakuni said.

Joyce Piwa, the Agricultural Officer Nebbi district said, the district has trained more than 2,300 farmers on post-harvest handling practices to minimize post-harvest losses in the lower local government.

He is therefore, optimistic that the factories will benefit the farmers if they focus on value addition.

“The district is rehabilitating community access roads linking all the production areas where farmers will transport their products to the processing facilities,” Piwa said.

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