Following the onset of rains in most parts of the country, Government, through NAADS, has commenced the distribution of oil seeds specifically sunflower seed to farmers in Northern Uganda. This is part of the intervention for scaling up the production of vegetable oil that started in 2022 with the provision of improved seeds of sunflower and soya bean to both large scale farmers and cooperatives in Lango and Acholi sub regions.
The overall aim of the planned interventions is to increase commercial production of oil seeds for domestic consumption and industrial use in the country. In this current financial year 2023/2024, Government allocated Ugx5bn to procure sunflower seed and Ugx2bn for soya bean seed for distribution to farmers.
According to Dr. Charles Aben, the Crop Development Officer at NAADS, 56 farmer cooperatives and 14 large scale farmers are to receive the sunflower seed for this planting season under the co-funding arrangement with the farmers paying 30 percent while Government through NAADS takes care of the remaining 70 percent. Among the cooperatives receiving sunflower seed are Agali Farmers’ Cooperative society in Lira district, Alito Joint Farmers’ Cooperative Society Ltd in Kole district and Ipala Cooperative in Dokolo district among others.
The sunflower seed distributed is hybrid seed which is of good quality and high yielding. The varieties distributed include Hysun 33, PAN 7057 and Aguara 6. One acre of land requires 2 kilograms of sunflower seed with a projected harvest of 1,000 kilograms of sunflower.
Dr. Aben says the soya bean seed will be distributed in March 2024 at the start of the first season (season A) of the year.
Uganda’s annual vegetable oil consumption stands at 480 million MT of this only 80,000 MT is produced locally with the rest of the requirements imported. The vegetable oil industry in Uganda has 104 factories with an installed capacity of over 3,000 metric tons per day in the country, requiring 1,106,315,000 kgs of grains at full capacity per year or 553,157,500 kgs at half year production; the current production is low with oil crops production being driven by small holder farmers in the rural areas.
Currently, the domestic raw material contribution is less than 20% and more than 80% of raw materials for the oil crops-based products are imported. Annually, USD 370 million are utilized to import crude palm oil and refined sunflower / olive oils into the country. Therefore, excess capacity for processing increased volumes of production still exists warranting an intervention to increase raw material production.
Uganda holds several advantages for scaling up its production of vegetable oil. The country has favorable agro-climatic conditions for cultivation and the prevailing business environment conducive. Moreover, there is opportunity for processors to work at full capacity due to increasing demand for vegetable oil locally and in the region; and increasing demand for the cake/meal for animal feeds because of the rapidly expanding livestock and fish industry.
Government’s intervention is aimed at producing at least 40 million MT of oil per year locally. Sunflower and soybean are two oil crops with a short production period with a substantial quantity of oil yield while significantly contributing to household incomes Sunflower has an estimated oil content of about 30% with sunflower cake a biproduct. Soybean has an estimated oil content of about 15% with soybean cake as the biproduct in addition to several other value-added products