BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2021
Fred Bwino Kyakulago, the Agriculture State Minister said the government is determined to develop the unexploited potential of commercial cassava production in the region through the agriculture cluster development project (ACDP).
“West Nile has a great potential for cassava which is unexploited. Previously, cassava was called the food for the poor but government is determined to make it the white gold,” he asserted.
Kyakulago was speaking during a press conference in Arua, after field visits to Yumbe, Maracha and interaction with Arua district officials.
The minister said he was on a mission to familiarize with the agriculture sub sector and monitor the implementation of the ACDP in West Nile.
“Where I found a competently implemented project, I commissioned it. But I found that the ordinary people have largely not appreciated the commercial value of cassava,” he said.
The minister emphasized the need to mobilize and sensitize the people to undertake cassava production on a large scale.
He said the government is working on establishing value addition facilities and opening road chokes to connect farmers to the major roads so that the produce can easily be moved to the markets.
Kyakulago noted that under the ACDP, farmers received tarpaulins, cassava cuttings and assistance for land opening.
He however highlighted some weaknesses in the implementation of the ACDP which included suppliers coming from Kampala without having a mother garden for cassava cuttings in the region and once they secure cassava cuttings from local farmers and supply them, they vanish without paying for the cuttings.
He also discovered that under the electronic voucher system, some people approved orders for cuttings on their mobile phones but disappeared before actual transfer of the funds.
“We are going to make sure we rectify all those loopholes,” he assured the people.
Kyakulago disclosed that the ministry has developed capacity for the department for mechanization with the vision to incrementally bring more mechanization into farming.
He said that the mechanization department is equipped to provide farmers with machinery for land clearing, ploughing and construction of water sources for production.
However the farmers have to write through the chief administrative officer to the mechanization department so as to receive these services on cost sharing basis.
Under ACDP in the passing phase, the government had targeted about 20,000 cassava farmers in west Nile but it has at the moment served less than 10,000 farmers.
Kyakulago said after his tour which will wind up in Nebbi on Friday after visits to some projects in Arua City, he is returning to the drawing board to strategize with the technocrats at the ministry on how to scale up the ACDP.