Uganda: Brightening farmers’ incomes with sunflowers

Santo Obita is a member of Akemkwene Farmers Group in Alyek village, Otaka Parish Agago District. He is one of the thousands of smallholder sunflower farmers in Uganda. For four years, he has been growing sunflowers on a commercial level after being frustrated by dwindling harvests from groundnuts, maize, and cassava.

Obita grows about one and a half hectares of sunflower and harvests nearly 900 kilos of seeds every season. Each harvest earns him about Shs2.8m. He uses the profits to pay school fees for his children while improving his household living conditions and nutrition. He says there has been an unbelievable change in his life. 

In 2019, Obita was chosen by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (Adra) as a seed recipient of improved sunflower seed alongside four other members of Akemkwene Farmers Group. They were beneficiaries of a livelihood program, Social Change and Livelihood Enhancement Programme (SCALE) project. The project supports smallholder farmers in groups with climate-resilient seed and cassava cuttings.

Sunflower is an important cash crop in Lango, Bunyoro, some parts of Teso and West Nile regions mainly for oil extraction. According to Marish Andiga, the income-generating activities support officer and an agronomist, the SCALE program sunflower farming as a business is a gateway to poverty alleviation among rural communities in Pader and Agago districts in northern Uganda.

“But before farmers undertake sunflower farming, they need to be aware of the risks involved. The major risks are the changes in yield due to climatic changes, price variations and costs of production,” Andiga says.

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