Several nursery bed owners in Teso, Lango, Acholi and West Nile sub-regions are counting losses after failing to find market for their cashew nut seedlings.
The suppliers said early this year, they received information that National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) through Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) would transfer most of the funds to meant for supplying orange and mango seedlings to cashew nuts.
“There was a campaign in 2017 that OWC was to shift from growing of orange, mango seedlings to cashew nuts, so we decided to invest in the project but lately, officials from OWC claim there was no such a move,” Mr Samuel Okello, a farmer in Soroti Town, said.
Mr Okello said he bought 60 kilogrammes of clone cashew nut seeds from Tanzania at Shs150,000 each but is now stuck with more than 30,000 cashew nut seedlings.
“I received the seed in March this year, I opened up nurseries here (Soroti) and another in Orungo in Amuria, with hope to supply Naads, but I have now made a loss of more than Shs15m,” he said.
Mr Robert Odongo, another farmer, is stuck with 13,000 cashew seedlings despite the fact that they are in different nursery beds across towns.
Mr Charles Aben, the national coordinator for Naads secretariat, told Daily Monitor that the project is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through Naads, but denied claims that the secretariat encouraged people to grow the seedlings.
Mr Aben said the project only targeted to buy 160,000 cashew nut seedlings at Shs1b from the cattle corridor belt, which comprises Teso, Lango, Acholi, West Nile, Nakasongola.
He said agronomic experts were sent to verify the nursery beds but found that out of 1.8 million seedlings, majority were not clone cashews, adding that the contract verification was done in partnership with the Uganda National Cashew nut Association.
“We are lobbying for more money, the current budget is small, and with the procurement process, that money (Shs1b) cannot do much,” he said.
Mr Aben added that the secretariat is not able to also buy improved cassava cuttings for farmers, saying the little money available will kept for next year, when more funds will be expected.
Recently, Lt Gen Charles Angina, the deputy coordinator for OWC said, he was not aware of a programme aimed at buying cashew nut seedlings.