As government diversifies the economy from the traditional tea and coffee, it has added cashew nuts, Mac-ada-mia and Hass Avocado to its priority cash crops. The programme to promote these crops will be headed by the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) secretariat and anchored by selected large farmers.
Dr Samuel Mugasi, the NAADS executive director, said that with the changing global demands in both quality and quantity the architects of NAADs, has opted to refocus to see that farmers now produce for these niche international markets.“The global trends are changing, eating habits are changing and we are seeing emerging commodities that are of economic and global importance. As a country, they have deemed it important to diversify as the country has been largely dependent on coffee and tea as the two main cash crops which is extremely risky,” he said.
Select farmersDuring the NAADS presser aimed at sensitizing the masses on its new direction, Dr Mugasi said the select farmers have already established gardens and nursery beds on land, of not less than 50 acres and growing the high value crops.“These eight nucleus farmers, have been entrusted with the duty of supporting the whole value chain from providing seedling, fertilisers and helping land opening for new farmers. For the country to achieve sustainable value chains, we must address the entire value chain in terms of research, production value addition and marketing,” Dr Mugasi said.
Mr Mugasi explained that these nucleus farmers are already doing their own research building an information base for these commodities and some already have factories to do value addition.He said NAADS has decided to shift from its previous strategy of just providing seedlings. which they did hoping for the best, that the agricultural sector will boom but instead the strategy had a lot of shortcomings.