Government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) has distributed planting materials worth sh.4bn for macadamia and Hass avocado to farmers across the country following the start of the rainy season.
Currently, macadamia and Hass avocado are some of the Uganda’s emerging non-traditional cash crops with enormous potential to contribute not only to the growth of the agricultural sector but increase the country’s foreign exchange earnings and improve household incomes.
Macadamia is the most popular and expensive nut in the world today with an oil content of up to 67 percent while Hass avocado has over 14 percent oil. Hass avocado has a high global demand and was valued at US$12.8bn in 2019 and is expected to rise to US$17.9BN BY 2025. Through NAADS, government is promoting and scaling up the production of these emerging high value strategic commodities working with large scale farmers with land holdings of 50 acres and above to promote massive production to meet both local and export demand.
Through the Nucleus Farmer Partnership strategy, NAADS has partnered with eight large scale producers of the two crops to enable and enhance access to quality planting materials of macadamia and Hass avocado to the small holder farmers/out-growers. Through this strategy, the small holder farmers access the relevant agricultural support services including extension, research and technology, storage, processing and value addition, market information and market for produce, financial and insurance from the big producers.
The eight nucleus farmers include Amafh Farm, Besmark Coffee company ltd, Njojo farm, Royal plants and nurseries, Humuza Agro processors and exporters group, Musubi Farm, Avocare and Kanyisa farm.
Bernard Sabiiti a large scale hass avocado farmer in Kanaala Sub County in Kitagwenda district and proprietor of Besmark Coffee says government has made a good move to support hass avocado farming because it has the potential to increase Uganda’s good foreign exchange earnings.
“I started hass avocado farming in 2020 during the covid 19 lockdown and currently, I have 275 acres with plans for expansion. I was on own and mainly depended on information I got on the internet. With government on board, we are now confident that we shall get the right technical guidance and any other support in this business”, explained Sabiiti
Sabiiti adds that in the 3 years he has spent in hass avocado farming, he has tasted the sweetness of the money from the high value crop. “I have sold some hass avocado and there are many buyers including Arabs who have visited my farm and are interested in buying the avocado at a very good price”, added Sabiiti.
This strategic intervention is being implemented under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Parties to the MOU who include NAADS Secretariat, the Nucleus Farmer/Farm, and the District Local Government in which the Nucleus farmer is located and has a concentration of activities for the out growers.
Implementation of this intervention started during Season 2022B and was in part guided by findings and recommendations of a baseline study conducted early last year. In this current planting season, NAADS has distributed over 300,000 seedlings of hass avocado and over 140,000 seedlings of macadamia to farmers across the country.
Dr. Samuel Mugasi, the Executive Director NAADS says all the beneficiary farmers have paid 30 percent of the cost of the seedlings while Government through NAADS has paid 70 percent.
A hass avocado seedling costs between 7,500 and 8,500 shillings while a macadamia seedling costs between 10,000 and 11,000 shillings.
“We have moved away from distributing free planting materials and adopted the cost sharing approach because it helps to avoid wastage of materials, promotes ownership by farmers and sustainability of the intervention”, explained Dr. Mugasi
Dr. Mugasi says when NAADS used to distribute free inputs, some farmers would leave them to dry up on their verandas since they attached no value to them.
The beneficiary farmers have welcomed Government‘s intervention to promote the two high value crops saying it was long overdue given the fact that neighboring Kenya and Tanzania have been reaping big from these crops.
Julius Bigabwa of Biglad Agro-tourism farm in Kabarole district says ever since he discovered the gold in macadamia, he has made it a family business and plans to expand his orchad.
“Currently I have 9 acres of macadamia but with government subsidizing the cost of the seedlings, I plan to acquire more land and expand. Am earning good money from adding value to macadamia but the biggest challenge is that production is still very low. We need many farmers to come on board and plant this crop”, said Bigabwa
Solomom Mangeni a first time farmer from Namayingo district received 1,500 seedlings to plant on 11 acres. “I learnt of hass avocado through different reading materials, conducted some research, visited Musubi farm in Mayuge district and I was convinced that it is the crop I wanted to grow on large scale”, explained Mangeni.
Hellen Mugerwa from Busia received 730 hass avocado seedlings at Musubi farm plant on 5 acres.
“I thank government for coming up to support hass avocado farming. The first time I planted it I got my fingers burnt because I did not know how to manage it and I was a telephone farmer who managed the orchard from Kampala. However, during the Harvest Money Expo 2023 at Kololo, I learnt a lot about hass avocado farming and the opportunity of cost sharing by NAADS. I made a decision to try again and with the knowledge I have acquired, this time around I plan to take proper care of my orchard”, explained Mugerwa.
Government targets to increase the production of the two crops to tap into the world market.