PAKWACH. Farmers in Pakwach district have expressed readiness to implement a three-year fruit growing project initiated by West Nile development association (WENDA).
The project, according to officials, is aimed at promoting the growth of improved varieties of mangoes and oranges to reduce household poverty, create self-employment and supply private sectors both locally and globally.
Mr Hassan Saidi Nginya, the WENDA chairperson said the idea of introducing fruit growing in West Nile was reached at during a recent meeting mainly due to the abundant and underutilized arable land in the region.
Nginya who also doubles as the Koboko district chairperson said because of the negative attitude towards agriculture as a commercial venture, majority of the people of West Nile are still living in abject poverty with many children dying of dietary related illnesses.
He said the idea of fruit growing is being implemented in Koboko district, adding that it only needs to be rolled out to other districts like Pakwach.
Nginya however, called for unity among stakeholders in Pakwach district if the project is to achieve its intended purpose.
He confirmed that about shs2.7billion has been earmarked from Provinca Autonomia Do Trento, an Italian agency for development to benchmark the project for the next three years targeting 1, 500 farmers and build their capacity in fruit growing .
Mr Robert Omito Steen, the Pakwach district chairperson welcomed the project, saying the move is timely for farmers in Pakwach to increase on their household income.
He noted that the district is ready to mobilize potential farmers to benefit from the project which he said is in line with the district's development plan of Alwi dry water corridor aimed at improving crop production.
Farmers venturing in fruit growing will be identified and the opportunity will be given to those with at least 20 acres of land in their respective districts in the region.
Mr Bernard Ombai, a fruit farmer in Pakwach town council said the issue of unpredictable weather pattern should be addressed through drip irrigation so that they can have good yield.
He also asked WENDA officials to consider supplying them with fruits that can yield in between 3-5 years.
Ombai observed that many small scale farmers have abandoned fruit growing due to fruit flies invasion, a challenge he appealed to officials to also address through timely distribution of pesticides to each farmer.
But some locals who declined to be mentioned were critical of the move saying a fruit processing plant commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni in 2015 lies idle in Arua which they said should first be revived to build confidence among farmers before a new initiative is introduced.