KAMPALA – Cashew nuts, Macadamia and Hass Avocado have been elevated to priority cash crops as Uganda seeks to diversify her economy from the traditional tea and coffee.
Dr. Samuel Mugasi, the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) executive director said this development has full government backing and that his agency has been directed to implement it.
Dr. Mugasi told reporters in Kampala that the world demand for Cashew nuts, Macadamia, and Hass Avocado has increased heavily over the past decade, and that Uganda has to move faster to seize this opportunity.
“The global trends are changing, eating habits are changing and we are seeing emerging commodities that are of economic and global importance. As a country, they have deemed it important to diversify as the country has been largely dependent on coffee and tea as the two main cash crops, a development he says is extremely risky,” Dr. Mugasi said during an engagement with reporters.
New strategic direction
Dr, Mugas said NAADS has decided to shift from its previous strategy of just providing seedlings, which they did hoping for the best, that the agricultural sector will boom but instead the strategy had a lot of shortcomings.
Dr. Mugasi said NAADS is now using the approach of co-funding for sustainable agricultural value chains. Under the nucleus-farmer partnership strategy, the government would contribute 70 percent of the cost of the seed while the farmers pay the remaining 30 percent which is remitted after the harvest.
NAADS has since signed a memorandum of understanding with the beneficiary cooperatives and nucleus farmers who committed to pay 30 percent of the cost of the seed.
He said Uganda’s economy has been largely dependent on coffee, tea, and other major agricultural exports but now the country is diversifying to include other high-value crops like hass avocado and macadamia which have high demand both in the local and international markets.
“These nucleus farmers, have been entrusted with the duty of supporting the whole value chain from providing seedlings, fertilizers and helping land opening for new farmers. For the country to achieve sustainable value chains, we must address the entire value chain in terms of research, production value addition, and marketing,” Dr. Mugasi said.
Ms. Grace Fatuma Kazigati, the NAADS Agribusiness Development Officer said that potential export markets for both fresh fruits and avocado oil include Asia, UAE, Qatar, and China as well as Europe, especially Italy.
In Dubai, she said Hass fruits fetch about USD3.5 per kg, in China about USD 8, and in Europe and the USA about USD6 per kg.
She said that most parts of Uganda are suitable for the production of all three new crops, especially Hass Avocado. Currently, it is majorly grown in Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Mbarara, Wakiso, and Mityana by 1000 farmers.
“In most parts of the country, the climatic and soil conditions are favorable for the production of these tree crops,” Kazigati said.
NAADS says that the crops are profitable but the profitability partly depends on the number of trees grown, the quality of the seedlings, and tree management.