By Paul Watala
The Government through the ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries has earmarked $147m to boost the production of Vegetable oil seeds like simsim, sunflower, soy beans and groundnuts in the country.
This development was recently disclosed by the oil seeds coordinator in the agriculture ministry Dr. John Bananuka while addressing participants who attended a two-day workshop at Masaba House in Mbale town. The participants from over 20 districts in the eastern region took part.
They included district production officers, oil millers, traders, farmers, input dealers, distributors and processors. Bananuka said that it is a five year project that is funded by the Government, International Fund for Agricultural products and the private sector. He added that it is aimed at reducing on the importation of edible oil and soap products.
“Sixty to seventy percent of the edible oil and soap needs in Uganda are met by imports from Kenya, Malaysia and other countries. Our plan is to reduce on importation of these products by between 30-40% by 2018,” Bananuka said.
He said that vegetable oil development project aims at using public partnership model to provide extension services to about 140,000 smallholder’s households thereby improving productivity, income and livelihoods of over 800,000 people by 2018.
He added that currently production of vegetable oil seeds in Uganda is at 80m tonnes and the target is 180m tonnes in the next four years. He said they will improve knowledge, skills in crop husbandry techniques, post- harvest handling, market intelligence and negotiation skills.
“We need to increase the production of sunflower, soy beans and ground nuts from 50% to 90% in the next four years,” Bananuka said.
Ministry of Agriculture vegetable oil development project hub co-ordinator for Mbale, Charles Sembatya said the eastern districts under the project include Budaka, Bududa, Bugiri, Bukedea, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Busia, Butaleja, Iganga, Jinja, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kapchorwa, Kumi, Manafwa, Mbale, Namutumba, Pallisa, Sironko and Tororo.
Those in the northern hub are Alebtong, Amolatar, Amuria, Apac, Dokolo, Kaberamaido, Katakwi, Kiryandongo, Kole, Lira, Masindi, Oyam, Otukei, Serere and Soroti. Sembatya asked district agricultural officers to be responsible for quality assurance, supervision, information gathering as well as monitoring and evaluation and synchronisation with other government programmes.
He explained that extension support will be provided to about 5,900 farmer groups through private service providers contracted by the project. Extension support will largely focus on use of improved technology like improved high quality seeds and soil fertility management.
He added that farmers will be mobilised for capacity building to enhance their effective participation in the oilseed value chain. They will also ensure that gender, HIV/ AIDS and environmental management awareness are mainstreamed in oilseed extension activities.