NEBBI: In a bid to improve household income in West Nile Region, the Government of Uganda through International Fund for Agriculture has injected 1.5 Billion Ugandan Shillings in Vegetable Oil Development Project.
The project is being implemented in the districts of Nebbi, Arua, Zombo, Yumbe, and Moyo through West Nile Private Sector, a local NGO which encourages farmers to venture into Soya beans and Sunflower growing in the region.
Officials said the five year project is aimed at improving vegetable oil-sufficiency in the region so as to ensure improved nutrition and health among members of the community.
Mr. Patrick Onwang, the project field supervisor West Nile Private Sector said over 2000 households have so far benefited from the project.
He said many locals have improved their lives through the project as West Nile Private Sector provides seeds and freely links them to buyers.
“People have adopted the growing of sunflower and soya beans and as a result, they have decided to drop cotton and tobacco which were the main cash crops they used to depend on,” Onwang said
He notes that farmers have demonstrated their potential to earn big from oilseed production and marketing by investing into visible livelihood assets and property across West Nile Region.
“The local consumption of soya beans has shot up in Arua, Koboko, Yumbe and Nebbi Districts in recent times thus leading to high local market prices in the rural markets,” Onwang added.
Mrs. Doreen Apio, one of the farm Produce Market Vendors in Nebbi Municipal Council main Market said they have emerged as the leading buyers of soya beans and sunflower besides supermarkets, whose shelves are equally filled up with soya beans snacks.
Mr. Daniel Oneka, a farmer in Nebbi Sub County said he use to plant cotton but now he has decided to go in for sunflower due its readily available market.
Oneka narrated that at first he planted 0.75 acres of soya beans and he obtained 481kg which he sold at shs1000 per kilogram without taking months looking for buyers.
“I used some of the money to higher land and planted more soya beans and I used the rest of the money for buying goats,” he said
Meanwhile Mr. Onegi Jenaro, the Project Team Leader said vegetable oil crops can be planted twice in a year unlike other crops like cotton.
Jenaro noted that much as the project is ending in December this year, there is no cause for alarm since the farmers can now keep the project going without further help from government.
He said the greatest achievement is that the farmers have been able to save seeds for themselves other than buying them from elsewhere, adding that farmers now have the best type of soya beans seedlings with high yielding capacity.
Currently, the main buyers of sunflower and soya beans are Nile challenge in nebbi,Karibo millers in Koboko, Nature harvest, and Odokibo Millers.