YUMBE. It was a tough moment for some farmers who received narrocast 1 type cassava cuttings under the Northern Uganda social action fund (NUSAF 3) program in Yumbe district.
This is because, during the dry season, it is hard for cassava plantations to survive in Yumbe unless they are fenced off from stray animals like goats and cows that often destroy them.
Every year, this poses a challenge of looking for cassava cuttings for planting especially during the onset of rains from March to April.
The farmers who benefited from the program endured and took the burden of fencing their cassava plantations though it was tedious and costly.
Now many farmers in Yumbe district have a reason to smile given the millions of shillings they are earning from the sale of cassava cuttings under the program.
Mr Bran Azaga, 53, a resident of Okuyo village in Kei sub-county earned UGX15.9million from the sale of 790 sacks of cassava cuttings.
"The millions of shillings I earned didn't come from nothing but hard work and love for Agriculture. I planted the narrocast cassava cuttings supplied under NUSAF program on a six-acre piece of land and I was entirely doing the work with my family members," Azaga narrated.
"It is very hard for sweet cassava to survive from both domestic and wild animals in our area but I decided to fence the whole field. I had to weed the cassava frequently and monitor the plantation until it was mature enough for harvest," Azaga added.
He now intends to use the money to pay school fees, solve domestic challenges and invest part of it in increasing the acreage of the land from 6-10 this year.
Similarly, Mr Swadick Olekua, 68, a resident of Kei sub-county could not mind of being a beneficiary of a government program of paying UGX25, 000 to elderly citizens every month because of his earnings from cassava cuttings.
Olekua sold 453 sacks of cassava cuttings which earned him UGX9.4million.
"I opened 13 acres of land in which I planted cassava and 4, 500 coffee seedlings. I have employed 15 workers to work in my farm and pay them on a contract of UGX120, 000 for an acre piece of land per month," he said.
"This NUSAF program has made me to feel big. I am enjoying the fruits of being a farmer. Those who had been idle but were fooling me this time want to push closer to me and sometimes, I give them a cup of tea purposely to tell them that picking a hoe to go to the garden is not a crime," he added.
Olekua advised people to stop idling and engage in productive work to make their lives better.
According to Mr Majid Angupale, 52, a resident of Gogoloa village, the sale of cassava cuttings is a very good business opportunity one has to venture in, though many farmers have failed to tap such opportunities.
"Cassava cuttings especially the narrocast type has the available market and when you have the strength, you can I earn a lot. I sold 655 sacks of the cassava cuttings at UGX20, 000 per sack that fetched UGX13.1million," Angupale said.
At the moment, Angupale is yet struggling to get a machine that processes cassava tubers before he starts harvesting.
He wants to open up a store to stock cassava flour so that people can come and buy it within other than going to Palisa district.
"Poverty is killing our region because of laziness. We have enough land in Yumbe that is not being utilized well because people have become beggars," Angupale stressed.
He added: "Previously, government programs like NAADS, NUSAF had no impact in the community because beneficiaries could choose wrong enterprises like goat rearing projects which end up being mismanaged but the current design of NUSAF program emphasizes on livelihood and it can be sustained."
Other farmers that benefited include Mr Ashraf Musa, 54, a resident of Leinga East village in Romogi sub-county who earned UGX5.08million and Mr Saffi Odrabi, 57, a resident from Kululu sub-county who earned UGX9.06million.
Mr Dickens Opio, an Agronomist working with Devine Organic Food said last year, their company supplied cassava cuttings to NUSAF 3 beneficiaries but this time, they had to buy from them to be supplied to the new beneficiaries.
"I want to urge the new beneficiaries to take proper care of the materials because next time, we shall be buying from them. I also want to encourage those whom we have paid to use the money in a proper way by initiating businesses," Opio advised.
"When we come back, we want to see the positive impact of the money we gave out to the farmers. People shouldn't use the money to marry more women," he added.