New Content Item (1)

Teso farmers transform cassava cultivation for economic prosperity

What you need to know:

Critical. As Uganda’s population grows, the need to increase cassava production to feed the population has become critical

Cassava is a staple crop commonly grown in Uganda on both small and large scales.

Cassava plays an important role in the diet and contributes a substantial proportion of the caloric requirements.

Peeled sweet cassava roots are eaten raw, boiled, fried, roasted, or after drying and pounding, they are turned into a paste. Peeled bitter cassava is turned into flour after a solid-state fermentation process.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), cassava is primarily cultivated in the eastern and northern regions. As Uganda’s population grows, the need to increase cassava production to feed the population has become critical.

To commercialize agriculture, the Ugandan government, with support from the World Bank via a $150 million loan, implemented the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP).

Cassava was one of the key crops targeted by the project, benefiting numerous farmers, including Mr Julius Isudo from Akurac Village, Okudumo Parish in Mukongoro Sub-county, Kumi District.

Mr Isudo joined the ACDP in August 2018 after learning about it through the media. Previously known as Kumi’s best cotton farmer and a major supplier of sorghum to Nile Breweries, Mr Isudo embraced cassava cultivation under ACDP

In his first season, he invested approximately Shs150,000 in the e-voucher initiative to obtain pesticides, 10 6x6 meter tarpaulins, and eight bags of stem cuttings of the improved Narocass 1 cassava variety.

Planting on a five-acre plot, Mr Isudo was able to expand to 40 acres using cuttings from his initial planting. Narocass 1, a high-yielding variety, produces tubers that can weigh up to 60kg and mature in just nine months, compared to traditional varieties that take two to three years.

Belonging to the Mukongoro Area Cooperative, his first season yielded a bumper harvest of one metric tonne of cassava, which he dried and sold for Shs2m per tonne.

The proceeds allowed him to improve his life significantly, he married his wife, built a home, bought property in Kumi Town, and supported his children’s education.

Impact on families and communities

Mr Isudo’s success story has inspired his children, who aspire to follow in his footsteps, having witnessed the transformative power of farming. His son, James Onapakol, recalls how his father’s fortunes changed with the ACDP initiative, moving from fishing to prosperous farming.

Amoru Amoroto Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Ltd

The Amoru Amoroto Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Ltd in Soroti District also benefited from the ACDP matching grant.

They received Shs154.2m, matched with Shs45m as the co-operative’s contribution, enabling them to construct additional storage space, a solar dryer, and purchase milling machinery. This investment attracted an influx of farmers, growing the cooperative’s membership from 45 to 336.The cooperative processes fresh cassava into high-quality, residue-free cassava flour, ensuring better prices for farmers.

They supply Teso Joint Bakery, one of Soroti District’s largest bakeries.

Training and improved practices

Members of the cooperative received training from Enterprise Uganda on group dynamics, governance, production, environmental preservation, and value addition, enhancing their capacity to produce and market cassava flour. Ms Harriet Arida, who joined the cooperative in 2022, has increased her cassava planting to one acre, benefitting from training and better prices.

Challenges and solutions

Despite successes, challenges remain. Inadequate drying space, limited access to water for processing, and unreliable transport hinder operations. Mr Isudo highlights the need for a farmer-owned value-addition center to stabilize prices. Delays in the e-voucher system were addressed by changing service providers and improving service delivery.

Sustaining growth

To ensure sustainability, the cooperative has established various committees to manage marketing and governance. Mr Isudo and other farmers continue to diversify their crops to sustain their families. Continuous training on value chain development and market access is crucial for long-term success.

Call for continued support

Mr Joseph Okiria, Kumi District Agriculture Officer, praises the project for addressing food shortages and unemployment. He advocates for another ACDP phase to reach more farmers. The project has shown that with proper support and training, farmers can significantly improve their livelihoods.

Transformed cassava farming

The ACDP has transformed cassava farming in Uganda, providing farmers with the tools and knowledge to thrive. Continued support and expansion of such initiatives are vital for sustaining agricultural growth and improving lives in the region.