Wednesday, 1 February 2017

I was a man of numbers and now I am counting money from my efforts with cassava

 Started small, grew bigger and is now ranked the leading Cassava seed multiplier in the whole of East Africa.  Mr. Akutu Augustine 54 years married with 9 children. Farming has given him a life he had never imagined. He has been able to educate his children, set up a firm home and gone beyond, to become a man of great influence within the community. His passion for farming stems from his upbringing.
Mr. Akutu and his wife (with head scarf) join in on the work to peel cassava for processing
“My father was a farmer but he was more into cattle rearing. He never put in much effort in cassava farming; in fact he never encouraged it. I however changed it all back in 1978 when I embarked on a new journey and took to farming cassava. I was a boy then but, look, 39 years later, this is how much I have achieved from cassava “remarks Akutu. ‘By the way, back when I was in school, I never liked any of the other subjects except Maths. I was a man of numbers and now I am counting money from my cassava efforts.” He chuckles after this remark.

Mr. Akuttu owns 16 acres of NaSE 14 and another 84 acres of NaROCASS 1 on his farm in Amucu. Additionally, Akutu has cleared an additional 122 acres of land at his farm to expand his multiplication of clean cassava seed. He has also purchased 120 acres of land at his home on which he intends to multiply more of NaROCASS 1 and NaSE 14 cassava varieties.

As a model farmer, the community now turns to him for advice on cassava production, both processing and farming. He has reached out to over 1,000 farmers in Amuria District and beyond. “Cassava is giving me good record, even at home. I train other farmers in good agronomic practices, and even avail them knowledge and skills in processing to obtain High quality cassava flour. In a week, I get at least 30 farmers coming to see me to learn. Since 2013 when AfrII discovered me and extended such knowledge, I have since become a ‘big’ man”
Mr. Akutuwith his NaROCASS 1 after a good harvest of root for processing

“Beyond just availing knowledge, my wife and I support fellow community members in times of hardships for example, when a neighbour loses a loved one, we give them both dried and fresh cassava to cater for food. We have also created employment because people come to peel cassava for us when we are going to process, from this, they earn some good money to keep them going. Also, by hiring a Vehicle to transport my cassava from my garden in Amucu to home where we do the processing, this is money for that vehicle.” His garden is about 20 Kms from his home. In addition, due to the ongoing hunger badly affecting the region, Mr. Akuttu says he is assisting whenever he can by giving out some root to the farmers that approach him in plight of hunger.

Apart from multiplying cassava, Mr. Akutu is also a prominent processor of High Quality Cassava Chips using a chipper he acquired through AfrII under the CAVA II Project. “I have bigger dreams. I want to establish a cassava factory in Amuria because today, we have a lot of farmers that have taken to farming cassava on bigger pieces of land. Now, with all this cassava, why can’t I, Akutu, set up a cassava factory for it? Smiled Akutu. Before this, he intends to purchase the inflatable mobile solar dryer for which he is greatly interested and is already setting savings aside to fund this.

Mr. Akutu with his wife and first born on their newly purchased 120 acres for multiplication of NaROCASS 1 and NaSE 14
 In 2016, Mr. Akutu sold 6000 bags of stem cuttings that earned him about 40 Million Uganda Shillings. He sold an additional 330 bags that earned him about 30 Million Uganda shillings. Each bag goes 30,000 Uganda shillings.This year 2017, he has been given an LPO to supply 481 bags of cassava stem cuttings to Abim District. This deal is yet to be another breakthrough for Mr. Akutu and his family.

The Akutu family in front of their home in Amuria District.

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