Amuru, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Smallholder farmers with vast land in Amuru District have ventured into cashew nuts growing in a bid to diversify crop production and income.
The enterprise follows the outcome of a meeting in which three farmers from the District met President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 2018 and proposed to him an idea of commercial cashew nuts growing. The President then endorsed a bench marking study tour for the farmers to Tanzania, where large scale cashew nuts production is practiced.
From 2020, the Operation Wealth Creation – OWC office in the district has been cumulatively supplying at least 10 farmers with the seedlings to support the pilot roll-out of the project aimed at diversification of crops for income.
Stephen Michael Inyang, a farmer in Kidimon village, Amuru Sub-County says he received 16,000 cashew seedlings to be planted on 20-acres of land. Inyang states he has been reading extensively literature materials regarding cashew growing.
The perennial tree starts bearing after three years of planting and usually each tree can reach full bearing capacity during the tenth year while giving remunerative yields for another 20 years.
Inyang, who doubles as the Chairperson of Ojigo Farmers’ Cooperative Society says he intends to set up a demonstration farm from which he will introduce more farmers to the venture to expand cashew nuts growing to target the exports market.
Col. Benson Olanya, the District OWC Coordinator says that Raymond Okidi, Omee Farm and Kera Farm among others are the latest recipients of the cashew seedlings supplied through the National Agriculture Advisory Services – NAADS.
In 2017 President Museveni directed the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to integrate Cashew nut among the priority Commodities and Development of Cashew nut Value Chain for improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Uganda.
The government through NAADS allocated Shillings One Billion Shillings for procurement of improved cashew nut seedlings. A total of 166,965 improved cashew nut seedlings were procured in 2019 and distributed to demonstration farmers which were then planted in 2,000 acres of land in 28 districts.
Cashew is industrially used in the manufacture of varnishes, industrial flooring tiles, water-proof papers, paints and gum among others. It is equally a source of income for smallholder farmers through the provision of employment opportunities and foreign exchange earnings for the government. It also provides protein, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese nutrients.