WEST NILE. Different farmer groups across West Nile region have received government of Uganda tractors under national agricultural advisory services (NAADS) with an ultimate goal of improving mechanization.

West Nile cooperative union and Arua district farmers association (ARUDIFA) are the latest to benefit from Arua district while Maracha district farmers’ association (MADIFA) and Kijomoro cooperative and credit society limited (KCCS) have benefited from Maracha.

“Our focus as a district is to empower farmer groups and its through them that we will deliver extension services and penetrate individual farmers,” Mr Alex Candia, the Maracha district production and marketing officer emphasized during the hand over on Thursday.

He asserted that the increased agricultural production will boost food security and value addition chain in the district, a move that will also suppress alarming malnutrition cases.

Under the memorandum of understanding (MOU), the groups are to contribute 20 per cent of the total cost that is put in their respective accounts to cater for tractor services and repair works.

They are also expected to buy new implements like trailers, harrows and planters among others after a period of one year to further improve the production process.

Although operations and management are carried by individual groups, supervision works are carried out by the district until a period of five years when the ownership reverts to individual groups.

Arua district deputy chief administrative officer Mr Charles Robert Ogwang warned the beneficiaries that failure to use the tractors according to the MOU, would prevent other groups from benefiting.

“These first tractors offered must be used very well because it can be a stepping stone for more tractors to the district,” Mr Ogwang said.

“If you fail to use them well, then you will stop others from getting,” he added as he hailed government efforts to increase production, productivity, employment and house hold incomes.

Mr Moses Etukitibo, the manager West Nile cooperative union said they have a membership of more than 27, 000 across West Nile region with a total land area of more than 20, 000 acres ready to be tilled.

He said the farmers in the region had hitherto suffered a comparative price disadvantage, a gap that could effectively be closed with the arrival of the new tractors.

Etukitibo said the focus of the cooperative union had changed to food after years of primarily growing Tobacco, a crop whose growth had sparked concerns from environmentalists over the years due to its huge demands for wood fuel.

Mr David Edaku, from ARUDIFA said they were dealing with 485 farmers groups with 180 set to join suit including refugee groups; each group average is 30 members.

MADIFA has over 4, 000 members across Maracha district while KCCS Ltd has 1, 700 members in Kijomoro sub-county.

While handing over the tractors in Maracha, the district woman Member of Parliament, Ms Rose Ayaka said she is optimistic that the available tractors will solve the mechanization challenges in the district.

Arua district officialsArua district officials led by vice chairman Boniface Alioni (Thumbs up) before the handover (PHOTO BY RIMILIAH AMANDU)