Welsh scientific expertise to boost rural Ugandan farming

As prices for Uganda’s cash crops hit rock bottom, a Wales based collaboration – Community Enterprise Model for Plant Oil Production (CEMPOP) – is working to develop and trial a sustainable agri-business that supports local communities.

Using the expertise of Cardiff University and IGO Ltd, the project is growing alternative plants that would help producers generate a better income.

Subsistence farming is the main economic activity in rural Uganda, so the fall in the price of cash crops means that many young people move to towns and cities in search of a better future.

To try and counteract this the project is working with commercial farmers, and Ugandan based organisations Kyoga Youth and Women Community Enterprise, to engage with local communities and help develop a potential alternative to the growing of the usual cash crops, replacing them with peppermint.

Peter Randerson a member of CEMPOP, and lecturer at Cardiff University School of Biosicences, said: “We have tried to set up the project in the most environmentally sensitive way possible, using local materials and expertise to clear an area of land to create the plant nursery.

“We are also using a variety of different methods to grow the plants to find the most efficient methods that are possible, that can easily be continued by the local community, so that they can reap the benefits.”

The production, extraction, processing and marketing of organic essential oils will create lasting opportunities for Uganda’s rural women and youth, coupled with educational opportunities for students in Cardiff.

Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said: “This innovative project is an excellent example of well thought out partnership work, with expertise in terms of the technical elements, such as sampling and testing being provided by Cardiff University and IGO Ltd, and local engagement and practical farming skills being provided by the Ugandan partners.

“Projects like this create an environment of shared learning, with benefits for all involved.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.