Dokolo – Agricultural experts are urging farmers in Lango sub-region and Northern Uganda as a whole to consider cocoa cultivation for economic empowerment.
Cocoa, a small evergreen perennial crop, thrives on loamy soil in a pit measuring 2ft deep and wide, spaced at three meters apart.
Major cocoa-producing countries like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon contribute about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans. Nevertheless, experts highlight that Northern Uganda shares similar loamy soil, favorable temperature, altitude, and annual rainfall akin to West Africa, making it suitable for cocoa cultivation.
Presently, around 145 farmers in Lango are cultivating cocoa, a crop that starts bearing fruits at two years, and is harvested twice annually. Farmers can potentially earn about 13 million Shillings per acre of cocoa annually. Mike Drazole, a sustainability expert specializing in cocoa, asserts that cocoa can thrive anywhere in Northern Uganda if farmers provide adequate shade trees for it.
Drazole, describing cocoa as a “lazy man’s crop,” explains it as a long-term investment that should be embraced by every household.
Fred Ogwal, a former UN employee turned clan chief of Inomo clan, is already cultivating cocoa on a six-acre plantation in Regorego, Dokolo district. Two and a half years ago, Ogwal dedicated over half of his land to grow two cocoa varieties: one with purple pods and another with green pods.
Ogwal, having invested eight million shillings in his plantation so far, anticipates earning about 100 million from his initial harvest. However, he emphasizes the necessity for more technical support, especially in disease management and post-harvest handling.
Despite this, Drazole advises farmers to select high-quality seedlings and adhere to recommended planting standards.
Paul Okullo from Adaganii Ltd, a company pioneering cocoa cultivation in Lango and currently facilitating seedling mobilization for farmers, mentions that most cocoa farms are thriving. Extension workers are undergoing training to provide essential technical services.
Uganda presently has an estimated 20,000 hectares of land, predominantly in Western and Central regions, under cocoa cultivation.