|Mango production on increase among rural farmers in Lango|
Indigenous fruit trees have since time in memorial been used as an alternative source of food and nutrition for many people especially in the rural areas. For this reason, the government of Uganda has come in to promote utilization and commercialization of improved fruit varieties such as Mangos, Citrus, Passion fruit, Pawpaw, Banana, Pineapple and others for improved livelihoods and household income especially among rural farmers.
To increase fruit production and motivate farmers to support the initiative, the government is calling upon farmers to support the production of improved fruit varieties that were scarce and very costly for farmers to acquire in the pass. The government is achieving this by initiating pro-farmer’s oriented programs and projects including National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAADS) and “Bonna Bagaggawale” or ‘Prosperity for All’ (PFA) which focused on promoting agricultural modernization, export growth and industrialization, tremendous efforts to increase fruit production in the country has been realized especially among rural farmers.
NAADS Annual Report 2009/10 shows an increase in the number of farmers that have embarked on fruit production with mangoes and oranges as the main fruits that are grown in the region to over 15,000 farmers. However, this is a small numbers but majority of the farmers are slowly adapting to improved varieties (i.e.; Tommy, Pinero, Florigon, Boribo, Bire, Purple Mango, etc) rather than the local varieties that produce little fruits with a lot of fibers, which are not easily marketable due to ignorance about the improved mango varieties.
While talking to one of the mango grower and seller in Corner Kamdini in Oyam District Mrs. Betty Odur, improved mango fruit varieties are good and yield more income than local types because they produce quality fruits and a fruit weigh 1 kilogram and above when managed well, she added that improved variety have much juices which are attracting numbers of juice processing companies and local consumers in their area. Mrs. Odur said that in a day she can earn more than 60,000 UGX from her sale along the roadside and over 300,000 UGX from buyers who buy in wholesale. She added that she is selling both improved and the local varieties but improved variety is giving her more income and the demand is high.
While sharing with her the benefits she has gained out of growing and selling mango fruits Mrs. Odur who was excited said that mango growing has supplemented her domestic consumption, she said that during mango season she cooked little food because children squander most of their time eating mangoes instead of cooked food. She continued that earnings from mangoes has helped her to construct a five room’s permanent house fully furnished, educating her children in boarding schools and she has acquired oxen and ox-plough that will help her fully invest in farming. She added that she is planning to start making juice for sale out of her mango fruits. Besides she wants to acquire a solar dryer to start drying mango fruits and pack them for sale. She has been trained on how to make mango juice as well as how to dry and pack them under NAADS; this is motivating her to start making mango juice for sale.
According to mango growers and sellers in Kamdini Corner, the biggest buyers of mango fruits are passengers traveling to Southern Sudan, Kampala, Gulu, Kitgum, and Eastern Uganda, those going to Kenya from Southern Sudan and wholesale buyers and juice companies from Kampala who come to buy fresh fruits in large quantity. According to them increased mango production in the region is attributed to the nature of the soil in the region, the region's temperatures, introduction of good quality and marketable improved mango varieties for production by the government Agricultural Research Institutions and pro-farmers oriented programs like NADDS and Prosperity for All supporting farmers with seedlings and better farming skills, and the existence of bi-linguist Northern Uganda High-Way that links Northern Uganda to Southern Soudan and Kenya creating a wider market within and outside the region.