Farmers have asked government through the Ministry of Agriculture to extend the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP) in Yumbe District.
The programme, which was initiated in 2017, aimed at increasing production and ensuring commercial farming.
However, many farmers did not embrace the project and lacked extension services to change their mindset on commercial farming.
The Ministry of Agriculture wanted district leaders to mobilise more than 30,000 farmers to benefit from the programme but about 1,557 farmers enrolled.
Under the programme, nine groups have been supported with construction of storage facilities, machine houses and procurement of machinery for value-addition.
However, farmers who never showed interest, are now regretting as others earn millions yet the project concludes in March 2022.
Mr Abdul Mutwalib Asiku, the district chairperson, said the project needs to be extended to benefit more farmers.
He expressed dissatisfaction, adding that of the 1,557 farmers who enrolled, only 300 farmers obtained tractor hiring services and 600 farmers got improved cassava cuttings.
“We were told, the project is ending in March 2022 meaning for the remaining farmers to benefit, the project has to be extended to 2023,” he said.
Mr Muhammad Jamal, a farmer in Bijo Sub-county, said farmers still need more support.
“If there is hope of the project to continue, more support on the supply of post-harvest handling equipment and value-addition is needed, including market linkages,” he said.
Mr Jamal, however, expressed gratitude, adding that he started with an acre and he has more than five acres of cassava plantation.
During his visit to Yumbe, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr Fred Bwino, said each farmer should be able to produce more food, adding that agriculture caters for the livelihood of 70 percent of the Ugandans.
“We want to incrementally give out tractors and we encourage private sector to mobilise farmers to commercial farming. We realised commercial farming will also need roads linking to markets. And most of the roads are unfortunately in bad shape. But we hope to improve this,” Mr Bwino said.
Mr Kassim Ejoyi, a farmer in Oyanga Village, Kululu Sub-county in Yumbe District, said: “I got enrolled into the ACDP programme in 2019 hoping that I was going to fail but I found myself progressing. They opened for me an acre of land and procured eight bags of cassava cuttings to start the business in the first season.”
“When I saw there was good outcome, I decided to sell the cassava cuttings to Welthungerhilfe and Operation Wealth Creation in the second season and I used part of the money to increase the size of my cassava garden to six acres now,” he added.
Mr Ejoyi said part of the money paid school fees and built a house.
Mr John Asea, the chairperson of Aliamu Farmers group listed lack of power and water as a challenge in processing cassava.
“To come up with quality products, it needs water because wet processing of the cassava needs a lot of water. Without water, we are going to assign the women to fetch water from the valley which is very far and dirty that will compromise quality,” he said.
Several farmers across West Nile Sub-region are still stuck to hoes, which government distributed recently, with few accessing the tractors of individuals and those that are provided under Operation Wealth Creation.