Tobacco Estates Turned Into Cereal Plantations
In 2013, when British American Tobacco announced the closure of its production line in Uganda, it decommissioned its 74-year-old plant. The move left farmers with no choice but to suffer losses until the arrival of Asili Farms.
Benjamin Prinz the Asili Farms operations manager, said during a recent tour that they had leased large chucks of land, which they have now turned into maize, soya and sunflower plantations.
Martin Jadribo, the Asili Farms manager agriculture production and management, said they have since regrouped former tobacco farmers and provided them with trained on how to adopt to new crops.
This, he said, has made the price of cereals such as maize and soya competitive because middlemen have been eliminated and farmers now sell directly to the farm.
During a visit to the farm by a delegation from Hunane province in China, Mr Prinz said the farm is one of the company’s projects in Masindi district, which are funded by investors from US and UK.
Mr Mark Randall, the Asili Farms operations manager, said whereas they have been registering good harvests, they are worried of the army worm.
According to Mr Chris Kaijuka, the Grain Council of Uganda chairman, there is need to improve post-harvest handling mechanisms to ensure that standards are improved.
This, he said, will provide Uganda with an edge in terms of competition. During the visit to the farms in Masindi and Kiryandongo districts, Henry Musisi the director Uganda Grain Council, said they are engaging investors to sustain established initiative.
“Most of our members are not given tax holidays. They need to be protected from investors who are well facilitated,” he said.