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Govt starts oil palm growing in Busoga after 13 years of waiting

Oil palm growing was officially started in Mayuge

Oil palm growing was officially started in Mayuge

The government, through the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP) has officially commenced planting oil palm crops in the Busoga sub-region. 

The project, introduced in the area thirteen years ago, finally took off on Friday with the planting of a four-acre garden at Buwolya village in Mpungwe sub county, Mayuge district, on land belonging to Muhammad Gweru, 72, an outgrower. 

Suzan Lakwonero, NOPP project manager, who oversaw the planting, noted that after years of anticipation by farmers in Mayuge, every registered farmer would now have the opportunity to plant oil palm gardens to improve their livelihoods. 

“The crops we are giving farmers have been nurtured in our beds for two years, our team will be here and monitor them closely for better results. We have trained enough extension workers to support Mayuge hub,” Lakwonero reveals. 

Unlike in other districts such as Kalangala and Buvuma, where oil palm has been planted after establishing nursery beds for seedlings, the Busoga sub-region hub will depend on the already established beds in Buvuma. 

“We have been challenged to get land near the lake to establish a bed in Mayuge and still failing but that cannot stop us from planting. We have dedicated enough vehicles to transport seedlings from Buvuma until all farmers are catered for,” Lakwonero said.     

The government's objective is to establish an estate of 3,500 acres of palm oil trees in the hub, covering three districts of Mayuge, Bugiri, and Namayingo, to support oil production in the country. Each acre will accommodate 67 oil palm trees. The hub will solely consist of outgrowers' gardens, unlike in Buvuma and Kalangala, where nucleus estates for investors are also established. 

Some of the oil palm seedlings
Some of the oil palm seedlings

The headquarters for Mayuge outgrowers are yet to be established in Manyiro sub-county, Mayuge district. The outgrowers association leadership has been constituted and approved by the district leadership of Mayuge, receiving its certificate of operation. Farmers in Mayuge expressed gratitude to the government for fulfilling the promise of introducing oil palm growing in their area. 

Moses Mabanda, chairperson of the Mayuge Outgrowers Association, emphasized the transformative potential of the project for both individuals and the community, hoping to benefit from infrastructure projects and alternative livelihood programs. 

“We have learned about this project and how it has transformed the lives of farmers in Kalangala and countries where it is grown. We are looking towards transforming our lives as individuals but also as a community, we hope to benefit from projects such as roads and alternative livelihood programs.” Mabanda says.   

Muhammad Gweru, the first beneficiary of the oil palm project in Mayuge, said he aims to leave behind a sustainable legacy for his family. Having previously grown coffee and cocoa crops, he recognizes the stability and potential of oil palm despite challenges faced in other agricultural ventures. 

Another outgrower, Silva Obara from Buwanuka village, eagerly anticipates planting oil palm alongside other fast-growing crops in his five-acre garden, recognizing the potential for stable income and improved livelihoods. Charles Ssembatya, an agronomist at NOPP, highlighted the long-term benefits of oil palm cultivation, with mature trees providing a steady income for up to 25 years.

Soil tests in the Mayuge hub have shown favourable conditions for cultivation. Mayuge joins five other districts in Uganda in planting oil palm, with Kyotera district preparing for planting after establishing beds.

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