Oil palm growing picks pace in Uganda

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Edwin Kiseka first planted oil palm in 2013. Since the introduction of its cultivation in 2005, more farmers keep embracing the crop.

As they prepare to plant new trees in March next year, they are battling price changes, environmental impact and fertilizer shortage.

“I think the biggest challenge is the price fluctuation but I think farmers have now learned how to deal with that. The second challenge is about the fertilizer. We get the fertilizer expensively. It is something that government should look into. We need to have, say, an input shop where a farmer can just walk in and pay for their fertilizer but still at a fair price and not counterfeit fertilizers.”

A kilogram of the edible vegetable oil costs 1 dollar, but this can be improved.

Uganda`'s palm oil exports totaled 45 million dollars in 2020,the government has partnered with private companies to strengthen and broaden the market for a crop that is turning lives around in one of Uganda`'s poorest districts.

“There has been a problem of markets here. Going forward I think this is where the emphasis is going to be put, on how to industrialize the agriculture. And NDP 3 is putting emphasis on this as well as the manifesto of the current government – they put emphasis on agro-industrialization. This is to create now markets internally,” said Ramathan Ggoobi, the permanent secretary of the ministry of finance.

At least 280,000 dollars is generated from oil palm on Ssese islands alone every month. There are not less than one million trees grown.

Raziah Athman, Africanews Correspondent, says, “the farmers on these islands have been enjoying the monopoly of cultivating oil palm but now the project is being extended to other parts of the country. Those new to the crop are taking their chances in what accounts for 33% of global oils.”

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