Plans by Kabarole District Agricultural Department to revive Moringa Oleifera growing have been greeted with skepticism by farmers.
The Moringa tree, sometimes described as the “miracle tree,” is often used for traditional medicine pounded out of its leaves that are packed with an incredible amount of nutrients. It is used in many developing countries to combat malnutrition especially among infants and nursing mothers.
Growing of Moringa was common in Uganda during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. But as the boom stretched across the country, the plant lost competitiveness dashing hopes of several Ugandans who had hoped to boost their household incomes through Moringa production.
Despite the outcome, the Department of Agricultural Development in Kabarole district is planning to revive the enterprise by encouraging farmers to engage in Moringa production as a way of improving household income, according to its 2016/2017 work plan.
However the farmers are skeptical saying that they don’t want a repeat of events that pushed them to destroy banana plantations, maize and potato gardens with the hope of reaping big from the enterprise.
The farmers also accuse the district agricultural authorities of misleading them back then, driving them into borrowing but later made losses after failing to secure markets for Moringa.
Moses Mugenyi, a farmer in Hakibale Sub County says that they were told by the district to grow Moringa which would make them rich. Mugenyi however says that the crop made him and other farmers poorer than before. He says that he was forced to slash the Moringa plantation as a result of frustration.
Vincent Mugisa, another farmer in Karambi Sub County says that he did not earn anything since he started growing Moringa in 2003. He regrets having spent his hard earned money to purchase Moringa seedlings.
Mugisa, who owned four acres of Moringa, says that some of the Moringa was attacked by pests yet he was ignorant on how to contain the disease from spreading to other crops.
Richard Mwirumubi, the Secretary of Kabarole District Farmers Association says that the agricultural authorities should first educate farmers about Moringa before promoting the enterprise. He says that since majority of the farmers lack the expertise on Moringa growing, the agricultural authorities need to help them grow the crop.
Salvatore Abigaba, the Kabarole district production coordinator, says that the district is ready to offer technical advice to the farmers interested to grow Moringa. He says that the revival is aimed at encouraging farmers to diversify and grow different crops to earn income.
– Uganda Radio Network