Uganda may never face scarcity of cooking oil, leading to the high price of the commodity, mostly consumed by the low income earners in urban areas, if the government initiative to distribute free oil seeds to farmers bear fruits.
Cooking oil is one of the commodities that has been affected by imported inflation, resulting from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
To plug the future shortage of vegetable oil, government has allocated Shs9 billion to National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) to boost production of oil crops in the country.
“The Government of Uganda through the NAADS has intervened to increase the production of key oil crops in the country specifically soyabeans and sunflower to mitigate the skyrocketing prices of edible oils, cleaning products, and personal care items on both the local and international markets,” reads a statement issued by NAADS spokesperson, Ms Hadijah Blessing Nakakande.
From 2021, crude palm oil prices hit record highs, along with soybean oil, sunflower oil, and other soft oils, which compete for a share in the vegetable oils market. The increase in crude palm oil prices has also affected the price of cleaning products especially soap and personal care products for which it is used as a raw material.
A bar of soap which was previously sold at Shs4,500 is now sold at not less than Shs7,000 at major outlets in Kampala, while a litre of cooking oil has increased from Shs5,000 to Shs9,000. Increases are also seen in the cost of margarine and other edible oils whose costing has gone up by at least Shs3,000.
The price rise is attributed to a disruption in the global supply chains of crude palm oil caused by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and worsened by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
“Government allocated 9 billion shillings to NAADS Secretariat to support a strategic intervention for increasing the production of key oil crops notably sunflower and soyabean due to their high potential for vegetable oil extraction,” reads the statement shared with Monitor yesterday.
This intervention is being implemented in partnership with both large-scale farmers and farmer cooperatives involved in oil seed production as a measure for import substitution. Accordingly, NAADS procured and distributed soyabean seed and sunflower seed worth Shs9 billion to 22 farmer cooperatives and 48 large scale farmers in Acholi and Lango sub regions.