Agricultural experts believe that the value chain oil seeds component could be Uganda’s new gold.
With about 81 districts targeted in the accelerated value chain addition for the oil seeds under the National Oil Seeds Project (NOSP) implemented by the Agriculture Ministry, imported vegetable oil worth about Shs1.1 trillion could be substituted with the home-made oil from the oil seeds, the experts further reveal.
Mr Christopher Gumisiriza, the project coordinator for the NOSP said “The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is currently mobilising farmers to allocate about 960,000 acres of land for oil seed production in 81 districts, yielding about 480,000 metric tonnes per annum”.
The private sector in the oil seed industry has installed 113 mills. Through increased production and productivity, NOSP mill utilisation will increase from the current 45 per cent to 85 per cent, Mr Gumisiriza added.
The government plans to increase the efficiency of farm operators through an improved agricultural extension system and the provision of a farm service promotion scheme.
These include tractors and medium-scale production equipment to boost production.
The project targets to support about 350,000 households in six sub-regions, including northern, mid-northern, West Nile, Karamoja, mid-western, and eastern geographical hubs spread over 81 districts.
Under the support of the oil seeds and value chain development, farmers are also expected to access high-quality production inputs including seeds, seedlings, and fertilizers.
The development of local seed businesses through quality declared production schemes, and provision of medium and small-scale irrigation schemes are part of the seven-year national oil seed project running from July 2021 to July 2028.
Mr Steven Cherop, a farmer from Kaptokwoi Village, Kakwomurya Parish in Kapchorwa District, has been in the farming sector and looks forward to the project to reach the intended beneficiaries.
“As a farmer, I welcome the oil seed project targeting the value chain system that will make our farm products earn more value. We have many projects in our district but they have not been helpful. We hope the oil seeds project will serve the intended beneficiaries,” he said.
Mr Christopher Wamboka, a farmer from Chemenden Village in Sipi Sub-county, Kapchorwa District, wants the government to inject more into the agriculture sector to boost food security and commercial farming for additional family income.
“Many farmers in Kapchorwa District are producing food for home consumption yet our district is capable of feeding the greater part of the region. We welcome the oil seed project targeting additional incomes for our respective families,” he said.
The National Oil Seeds Project funded by the government of Uganda, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the OPEC Fund for International Development, Heifer International, and the Kuehne Foundation, among other partners, targets accelerated commercialisation in key oil seed value chains for improved livelihoods and resilience of the smaller holder farmers engaged in oil seed production.
Uganda still banks on the agriculture sector as the leading employment sector for more than 70 per cent of the population and accounting for more than 80 per cent of the exports.