Cassava is the main staple food for the people in the Northern Uganda. It was considered a low value crop by a number of people in the country. However, the demand for cassava has increased tremendously in the recent past due its diverse by-products that is paper, textiles, adhesives, beverages, confectioner, pharmaceutical, food and building materials.
Having realized the increasing demand of Cassava, UCA decided to support 5 Area Cooperative Enterprises (ACEs) in West Nile and Lango sub regions to increase production and productivity of cassava to improve the livelihoods and food security situation of smallholder farmers and Rural Producers through as Program known as “Support to Farmers’ Organizations in Africa Program-SFOAP”. The support was provided in various forms i.e. establishment of demonstration gardens for learning purpose where high yielding cassava varieties like NASE 3, 14, and 19 plus NAROCA 1 and 2 which were later on planted by the members which lead to increase of production productivity and income.
However during various meetings held with leaders and general membership of the ACES, it was discovered that cassava value chain is faced with numerous challenges including bad farming practices by some farmers, poor post-harvest handling, theft, pests and diseases, destruction of cassava gardens by stray animals and wild fire among other challenges. These challenges made it difficult for the members to increase production and productivity of cassava hence difficult to achieve the goal of the program which is to improve the livelihoods and food security situation of smallholder farmers and Rural Producers. It was on this basis that Uganda Cooperative Alliance with the leaders of the implementing ACEs pushed for enactment of a law to address the challenges mentioned above. In June 2017, the Nebbi District Cassava regulation was presented by Ms Nimungu Claire Doreen, the Secretary of Production and passed by the District council.
The Nebbi district cassava regulation was drafted and presented by the production committee of Nebbi District Council that sat on 15th June 2017. The passing of the Local Government (Nebbi District) Cassava Regulation 2016 by the Nebbi District Council is one of the key achievements of the SFOAP intervention in the region and the same Law is to be customized by Pakwach District having been curved out from the original mother District of Nebbi. In October 2017, a dissemination meeting was organized for the members of the ACEs and other stakeholders during which Hon. Nimungu Claire Doreen the Secretary for Production presented the cassava regulation to the members.
The occasion was graced by Hon. Alenyo Ezrom William the LCV Chairperson, Hon. Okello Geoffrey LCV Vice Chairperson, Mr. Okaka Geofrey, the Chief Administrative Officer, District Councilors and District Technical staff among other dignitaries.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Alenyo Ezrom William the LCV Chairperson thanked UCA for the good work done in supporting the district to address one of the main challenges facing cassava production and other crops. He informed the meeting that what the members should be talking about is “making money”. He pointed out that his first employment was with Pakwach ginnery and that cooperative is therefore the backbone of our country. He stressed that whatever we do, we should think of how to make money and stressed “whatever we do, we should do it with passion so as to succeed”. He challenged the Secretary of Production and said “you cannot say you are Secretary of production if you are not producing”. He also challenged the cooperatives to increase production in order to make more money and come out of poverty. He then declared the meeting opened.
In his closing remarks, the LCV Vice Chairman Hon. Okello Geoffrey thanked UCA for working hand in hand with the district councilors towards the development and passing of the cassava Regulation. He pointed out that stray animals in particular goats, cattle and pigs have contributed to low production and productivity since they eat not only cassava leaves but also destroy the stems which make it difficult for the farmers to get planting materials. He stressed that the district will ensure that the cassava regulation is enforced to encourage and promote agricultural production in the district. He then declared the meeting closed.