Cocoa farmers in Uganda are up in arms after they noticed an increase in fake Cocoa seedlings on the market which they say are being supplied by the Government-backed programme of Operation Wealth Creation.
“The government is supporting the cocoa sector by supplying cocoa planting materials to farmers, however, the seedlings being supplied are of poor quality.
“These seedlings are being sourced from nursery beds not certified by government agencies responsible for certifying nursery beds,” claims Abdul Kimbowa, the Chairperson of Uganda Cocoa Growers Association.
He says for the farmers to access quality cocoa planting materials, the government should support the private sector to establish cocoa nursery beds.
This will make the seedlings available to farmers as compared to the current situation where there are very few nursery beds despite the high demand for the planting materials.
Kimbowa observes that cocoa farming has been embraced by many Ugandans due to the high demand but the majority of the farmers are not accessing the international market.
This has exposed the farmers to be cheated by middlemen who procure the cocoa beans at cheaper prices.
“The Government should support Cocoa farmers by connecting them to international markets like what it has been doing to other crops,” said Kimbowa.
The Spokesperson of Operation Wealth Creation Major Tabaro Kiconco was not readily available to comment on the alleged supplies.
However, Kimbowa says that Uganda’s Cocoa is on high demand on the international market because of its flavour.
“It being organic, Ugandan cocoa farmers do not apply inorganic fertilizers so the product has high demand on the market,” he stressed.
But the Executive Director of Uganda Export Promotion Board Elly Twineyo Kamugisha argues that for the product to be promoted abroad, farmers need to produce in bulk and also maintain high-quality standards that can meet international and regional markets.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO