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Farmers in Acholi tipped to embrace commercial agriculture

Minister Grace Kwiyucwiny.

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The State Minister for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation, Grace Kwiyucwiny has asked farmers in Acholi sub-region to shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture to eradicate poverty and attract processing plants.

Kwiyucwiny says the majority of farmers in the region are still engaged in subsistence farming which hasn’t helped in alleviating the poverty condition in Acholi sub-region. She notes that through commercial agriculture, farmers will produce in bulk, thereby attracting investors ready to establish processing plants for value addition to agricultural produce.

According to Kwiyucwyiny, the government is currently in the process of supporting farmers with large acreages of land in a bid to promote commercial farming and urged locals in the region to take advantage.

The minister was on Wednesday speaking at the commissioning of a multimillion agro-supermarket hub in Unyama A cell, Pece Laroo division, Gulu city. The 493.7 million shillings facility was established under the, “Chase Hunger and Poverty”, a project implemented by the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) with funds from European Union.

She told the benefiting farmer associations that they will be utilizing the facility to turn it into a processing hub instead of leaving it as an agricultural store so that they attract more markets and services.

Gulu Resident District Commissioner Charles Ichogor, however cautioned the farmers and local authorities to jealously guard the initiative so that it has a multiplier effect in the community.

Celine Lhoste, the DINU programme manager EU Delegation in Kampala says the facility will have positive impacts on many households in the region and boost the regional economy.

Frank Turyagenda, the Director of Research for Ngeta Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (ZARDI) says the facility will act as a one-stop center for bulking produce and accessing agro-input for farmers.

He says through bulking of produce, farmers are able to sell their produce in the market at high prices without being cheated by middlemen and also get genuine agro-input delivered to them at a relatively low cost.

Turyagenda also notes that the availability of a demonstration site at the hub will help teach local farmers good methods of production and how to use good quality seeds.

Denis Ochieng, a farmer under the Grassroots Women Association for Development (GWAD) lauded the initiative of establishing a supermarket hub for local farmers saying it will help in marketing their crops.

Ochieng says so far, their association since the establishment of the hub has sold 14 tons of rice and 10 tons of soya beans in bulk through partners that linked them to the market.

Ochieng however decried the challenges the farmers are facing with regard to transporting their produce to the hub and persistent price fluctuation.

The newly commissioned agro-supermarket hub will benefit a total of 50 farmer groups in Gulu district.

At least some 60 Local seed business groups in Gulu district are also receiving support from NARO under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU)-a program supported by the European Union and supervised by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

Four other similar agro-supermarket hubs have also been established under the project in the districts of Alebtong, Pader, Oyam, and Nwoya, totaling 2.5 billion Shillings.

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