Hoima farmers seize the moment-with some Irish help
The prospect of a ready market for fresh produce in the oil camps is motivating farmers in Hoima District to start up horticultural projects.
Some of them have abandoned the previously lucrative rice growing and are now venturing into planting tomatoes, cabbages, green pepper, carrots and other vegetables.
The farmers sell their produce to the Hoima District Farmers Association (HODIFA), which goes an extra mile by picking the produce from their gardens and transporting it to the Hoima Business Enterprise Centre.
This Centre was set up by Traidlinks, an Irish not for profit organisation, with funding support from Tullow Oil and the Uganda Investment Authority. It operates a weekly market day, at which produce is brought, cleaned and packaged for sale to the oil camps and other businesses in the area.
According to Traidlinks officials, their target is to develop an agricultural supply chain in the Lake Albert Region that will provide 35 percent of Tullow’s food demands in the oil camps in the next two years.
Mrs. Dinah Mwesigwa is a member of the Mpaija Nigina Horticultural Group in Hoima District. She grows cabbages and tomatoes.
She says that she is happy with HODIFA because they buy her produce from her farm and offer her a good, steady price. In addition, she does not have to incur transport expenses to take her produce to the local market.
“They came here and educated us on the type of seed they need for us to get a good harvest. Now everything we grow is bought. We are told that the produce is eventually sold to the oil camps,” she says.
Margaret Kasaija, a retired civil servant grows mushrooms at her residential house in Hoima town. She has been supplying mushrooms to the local supermarkets in Hoima town for a while now but expects to expand and supply some of the oil camps.
With the help of Traidlinks, which advised her on packaging her product, she recently submitted some samples to Tullow Oil and is anxiously awaiting their feedback. If Tullow’s response is positive, she says that she has trained some local women in mushroom growing who will beef up her stock in case she is overwhelmed by demand.
Business not neglected
Meanwhile, Traidlinks has launched the Hoima Business Club in partnership with the Uganda Investment Authority, Tullow Oil and DFCU Bank.
The purpose of the Club is to mobilize and support business entities in Bunyoro Region to position themselves to benefit from opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
According to the Traidlinks Promotions Officer, Damon Wamara, the business club will be an avenue for business people to easily access information and also be accessed by the oil and gas companies.
“The business people are positioning themselves in terms of transport, accommodation, food, logistics and many other business opportunities that will arise,” he told Oil in Uganda.
Traidlinks is also encouraging the youth in Bunyoro to think about self employment and has launched a business plan competition in which the best candidate will win 800,000 shillings (300 dollars) in start up capital, as well as training opportunities in business planning.
Report by Musiime Chris, Beatrice Ongode and Wilberforce Bigabwenkya