Kampala, Uganda | URN | The National Agricultural Advisory Services- NAADS’ newly instituted nucleus farmer strategy has boosted the planting of two high-value crops; macadamia nuts, and avocado.
The two crops are a new addition to Uganda’s agribusiness sector, and are highly cherished due to their economic potential, thanks to the global demand due to the multiple importance these plants have.
To boost production, to meet both national and export demands, the government through NAADS, included the two crops onto the high-value plants that required specialized interventions to ensure increased household incomes, and this financial year, up to 20.5 billion shillings were allocated for this purpose.
According to NAADS, since the strategy began in August 2022, up to 137,031 seedlings of Macadamia have been distributed by only two nucleus farmers; 1,827 acres of farmland have been established, and over 3,000 farmers have benefited.
“For Hass avocado, over 100,000 farmers have established orchards on a total acreage of 5,340 hectares, and a total production of 47 million kilograms annually,” says Khadijah Nakakande the NAADS Public Relations Officer.
Under this new strategy, Nakakande says the nucleus farmers produce quality planting material to willing and interested out growers in a cost-sharing arrangement, provide extension services alongside the government’s staff, and also buy the produce of these out growers.
“To ensure ownership and sustainability, participating farmers who desire to take the seedlings under this intervention contribute 30% of the cost of the seedling, while the government through NAADS contributes 70% in line with the current government strategic direction of cost-sharing by beneficiary farmers,” Khadijah explains.
Unlike in the previous approach where NAADS operated through the local government structures, this strategy involves an integrated value chain approach and participation of farmers through an out growers’ scheme and/ or any other nucleus farmer-farmer/producer outreach modality and is intended to enable access to relevant agricultural support services like quality agricultural inputs, extension, research and technology, storage, processing and value addition, market information and market for produce, finance, and insurance.
In a field visit to assess the performance of the strategy, several out-growers and nucleus farmers in the districts of Kabarole, Kitagwenda, Mityana, and Mayuge, were assessed.
Raymond Muhwezi, the manager of Royal Plants and Nurseries Farm, a commercial nursery in Kabarole District of western Uganda, says that this farm was established in 2003, and got its first seedlings of these two crops from Kenya. He adds that though they produce other crops, their main focus is on avocado and macadamia.
According to Muhwezi, with NAADS on board, more people have learned about these crops, and at least are aware of their existence in the country unlike before. He adds that though they are challenged by a lack of an association to push for their interests, the numbers are very promising.
Robert Tusiime Kajjabago, an out-grower in Myeri village, Kyenjojo district, says that though he has been in macadamia farming for a long, with NAADS, he is now assured of his farm’s continuity and good plant health. He also called on NAADS to provide subsidized value-addition equipment.
Brian Cheruiyot, the farm manager of Basmark coffee company limited, cultivating 275 acres of Hass Avocado, says that NAADS has created awareness of the crop, and also supported the out-growers and the numbers have since increased.
In Mayuge, the large-scale Musubi farm has a complete Hass avocado value chain, and has so far cultivated 1,012 acres, with a population of 170,000 trees, and the farm manager Hesbon Kirui says that since NAADS intervened, they have exceeded 250,000 seedlings sold out which wasn’t imaginable before.
Macadamia is believed to be the most expensive and the most popular nut on the world market today, with up to 67 percent oil content, and is used for confectionery, baking, ice cream, and as snacks.
Whereas Hass avocado is estimated to account for over 80 percent of the global avocado market. Its demand was valued at USD 12.8 billion, in 2019 and is projected to rise to USD 17.90 billion by 2025.