Kampala, Uganda | URN | Apple farmers in Western Uganda have been encouraged to grow more of the fruit to tap into the expanded local market.
Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) is collaborating with agencies including National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) to mobilize local farmers with a focus on boosting apple growing for beer production.
Early this year, the brewers launched a new apple-flavored-beer – Tusker Cidar.
Joseph Kawuchi, the agrobusiness manager at Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) says they are going to use apple as additional raw material in their production line opening up a big market for the local farmers.
He says UBL seeks to build a strong and resilient supply chain to satisfy the business’s annual demand for high-quality inputs like sorghum, barley, apple and cassava while empowering smallholder farmers.
Kawuchi said that UBL spends at least 35 Billion shillings annually in buying local brewing products.
He added that UBL will also support farmers with seeds and technical guidance.
Grace Kasingati Fatima, the coordinator of apple commodity value chain under NAADS said, they partnering with different companies which are sourcing for local materials for their products to open up a wider market for Ugandan farmers.
She added that more than half of the apple and its products in Uganda’s markets is imported.
Kazigati also noted that NAADS has distributed 2.4 million seedlings for large-scale, medium and small farmers across the country to boost production.
John Kimadi, the chairperson Kasese Apple Growers says the availability of a wider and better market will encourage more people to join the business and the current farmers to improve on quality.
But Kimadi wants a memorandum of understanding with UBL so that farmers can be assured of prices and the availability of a steady market.
Kimadi also calls for skilling of both the farmers and extension workers noting that the latter have limited knowledge on good apple agronomic practices.
Benon Kahangyi, the district production and marketing officer for Rubanda district says that apple farming started in 1996 in the district but production has been frustrated by a lack of market, knowledge and skills among farmers.
He asked UBL and the government to supply different apple varieties to farmers so that they can increase the marketability of their products.
Kazigati says that before they supply seedlings to farmers, they consult line ministry for guidance and they base on report outcomes to procure the seedlings.
Uganda is promoting apple production under NADDS programme in the highlands of Kigezi, Rwenzori, Sebei, Bukedi and Bigisu sub regions.
More than 30,000 farmers are expected to supply apply to UBL.