As the oil and gas industry gains momentum in the Albertine Graben, farmers in Masindi District are positioning themselves to benefit from the resource through pineapple farming.
Yesterday (Monday) the farmers received pineapple suckers from Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) to enable them plant and produce fruit that will be consumed by the expected growing population of people who will be employed directly in the oil and gas industry in the Albertine Graben once oil production begins, save for the local populace.
The Buruli County OWC Coordinator, Maj Norbert Besisira, told our reporter that 10 farmers received 100,000 pineapple suckers that were distributed on Friday and yesterday with each taking home 10,000 suckers.
This was part of the more than 30 farmers in the district who requested for the suckers from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) in 2019, but following the delay to receive them, some decided to put their land to other agricultural use.
Maj Besisira revealed that the authorities identified Kinuma village in Mirya sub-county as a centre for pineapple growing in Masindi adding that distribution of suckers to other areas in the district will be executed from there instead of moving to other districts to get more.
He urged the beneficiary farmers to tend to the crop well saying that market for their product will be available in the near short term given the ongoing construction of Bunyoro industrial hub at Kiryana village in Masindi district as they wait for a bigger market when oil production begins in the near future.
Ms Doreen Wandera, one of the beneficiaries and resident of Bigando Cell in Kigulya Division, Masindi Municipality is optimistic that farmers will earn big from the crop since they are in the region that will be producing oil and gas in the near future where demand for commodities will be high once the big population of people who will be working there will equally increase.
She noted that there are few pineapple growers in the region hoping that with the high population that will flock the area demanding for the supply of the fruit, she will be able to provide suckers to other interested farmers to meet the high demand.
Ms Wandera observed that it is wiser for one to engage in pineapple growing now saying Bunyoro region does not have any known pineapple farms like Buganda where the crop is grown on a relatively large scale in Luwero district.
“I hope other farmers will get pineapple suckers from me for multiplication once they grow,” she said.
Mr Charles Asiimwe, also a beneficiary and resident of Kinuma village also in Mirya sub-county is hopeful that since he lives near a busy road, he will have market for his pineapple as he waits to sell the fruit to workers in the oil industry once production begins.
He urges the government to consider establishing a pineapple plant in the Bunyoro sub region to absorb farmers reap more income from the fruit that will be consumed on a larger scale by the expected swelling population in the Albertine oil belt.
Mr Asiimwe said the 10,000 pineapple suckers he received were enough for his one acre piece of land.