Despite their high economic potential, the cultivation of macadamia and cashew trees in Uganda has been hindered by the lack of quality planting materials, poor agronomic practices, increased susceptibility to pests and diseases, and poor species-site matching. To date, the cultivation of these nut trees in Uganda has not been guided by matching varieties to suitable agro-ecological zones.
Through a new NARO Competitive Grant Scheme project, NaFORRI is evaluating germplasm of improved macadamia and cashew varieties and their suitability to priority agro-ecological zones of Uganda. Germplasm of three improved macadamia varieties (Kiambu-3, Kirinyaga-15, Muranga-20) recommended for commercial production in Kenya has already been secured and used to establish local adaptability trials in the Lake Victoria Crescent and Western Savannah grasslands AEZs. Plans are underway to acquire improved germplasm for the establishment of cashew local adaptability trials.
The project seeks to establish mother gardens to produce high-quality germplasm and develop appropriate agronomic practices for increased macadamia and cashew orchards productivity. By removing bottlenecks to their production and commercialization, this intervention will support the development of a vibrant macadamia and cashew nut industry in Uganda.
Macadamia and cashew nuts are increasingly becoming major cash crops with high export value in East and Southern Africa. Feasibility studies in Uganda indicate a very high potential for the crops as the country has adequate rainfall, suitable soils, and elevation similar to Kenya and Tanzania, the leading suppliers to Europe of macadamia and cashew nuts. The nut trees can bear fruit for over 100 years, have two seasons a year, and are highly demanded on the international market. Initial projections indicate that a farmer can earn between UGX 60-70 million per year from an acre of macadamia, and UGX 24 – 60 million per acre of cashew, if properly managed. These credentials endow the nut trees with great potential to improve farmers’ household income, increase foreign exchange earnings, create employment, reduce poverty and enhance their living standards through the production, processing, and export of nuts.