More extension workers needed to improve agricultural produce

By Deo Wasswa

The government is set to recruit additional extension workers to assist farmers on best practices to improve the quality and standards of agricultural produce.

Speaking at annual stake holders meeting organized by Sasakawa Africa, an orgnisation advocating for smart agriculture and agriculture best practices, Beatrice Namaloba, principal agricultural extension coordinator at Ministry of agriculture noted that substandard agriculture produces has remained a major challenge for agriculture sector especially when marketing the products on international market. She says this year , Ministry of Agriculture’s emphasis will be on increasing extension workers to help on addressing the matter.

According to Namaloba the ratio of extension workers to Farmers in Uganda currently standards at 1:1800 and as government want to bring it down at least to 1:500.

She added that on top of recruiting additional extension workers, the ministry is also looking at introducing other models such as e-extension where farmers will need to visit internet and understand the solution to problems that are likely to affects their gardens.

She says introduction of Village extension assistant will be also looked up on as another possible model.

Agriculture ministry looking for funds to combat locusts invasion

By Deo Wasswa

Ministry of agriculture is seeking five billion shillings to prevent locusts from entering Uganda from neighboring countries.

As earlier predicated by food and agriculture organization experts, locusts invaded the north eastern Kenyan county of Mandera in December 2019.

Currently, the locusts have spread to the six counties of Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa Meru and Isiolo.
Addressing journalists at Uganda Media Center the state minister of agriculture Aggrey Bagiire said his ministry through office of the prime minster has requested the finance ministry to avail the funds to fight the deadly insects.

He notes that a technical team of two officers have been assigned to travel to Kenya to understudy the current locusts control operations to subsequently share experiences and support the control efforts in Uganda in case of any outbreaks.

Museveni asks locals to embrace modern agriculture

By Moses Kidandi
President Yoweri Museveni has urged Ugandans to fully differentiate national development infrastructures and household income.

President Museveni who is has embarked on an on-going nationwide campaign to sensitize the population to eradicate household poverty and job creation , maintains that

“Household income is more important than development infrastructures because a family, which derives an income from production undertakings, is able to provide for its needs with or without the presence of government development infrastructures,” the president said

The President says this can be achieved through modern commercial agriculture and stopping continued land fragmentation.

He, therefore, urged Ugandans to engage in modern profit-oriented agriculture with emphasis on high yielding produce especially the people who have small land holdings.

After a successful rally to address wealth creation challenges,in Ngoma Sub-County and the neighboring Sub-Counties in the Central Region’s Nakaseke District,the president is embarking on another sensitization campaign Namayingo in wakiso district where he is campaigning for modern agricultural practices, especially dairy farming, that has seen them boost their earning capacity and made their living standard better.

Netherlands Partners with Buganda to improve agriculture

By Daudi Zirimala
The ambassador of Netherlands HE Henk Jan Bakker says there is need for mindset change among farmers in the country to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming.

HE Henk made the remarks while visiting the kingdom of Buganda to foster cooperation between the embassy of Dutch and Kingdom in the field of promoting agriculture and animal husbandry among Buganda counties.

He noted that currently they are working hard to change farmer’s mindset since Netherlands is the champion of agriculture in the world.

Speaking at the same Event the premier of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga welcomed the cooperation between Netherlands and Buganda Kingdom saying that this collaboration will help people in Buganda to get skills in farming most especially specializing in animal husbandry.

Thousands of women across Buganda Kingdom are expected to attend this year’s Buganda Women’s Convention 2019 at hotel Africana under the theme Holistic women’s health a boost to sustainable development.

According to Minister in charge of Women Affairs in Buganda Kingdom Dr Prosperous Nankindu,the convention for this year is focusing on women’s health,how they can treat children and other challenges they face due labor times.

Se noted that Her Royal Highness Nabagereka Sylvia Nagginda and the King of Buganda Ronald Mutebi II will give key note address during the conference to empower women on how they can deal will health related problems they face.

Minister Sempijja asks Wakiso farmers to create a food hub for Kampala

By Moses Kidandi
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja has embarked on a site tour of gardens of farmers in Wakiso District starting with Gombe Sub-County-Nansana Municipality.

This is being done in a bid to ensure food security in the Country. During his visit, farmers urged government through (MAAIF) to provide them with irrigation systems to reduce on losses usually caused by long dry spells.

“We are ready to satisfy Kampala markets in terms of food supply. We want to use the geographical advantage to the City but the problem is that, we lack functional irrigation systems,” says Minister Sempijja

Vicent sempijja said government intends to mobilize farmers near City centers to go into agriculture because majority of them have enough land. He says the move will help reduce on rural-urban migration because people will be employed and with enough food in their homes.

New crop specific fertilisers to improve food crop yields in Uganda

By Gloria Nakiyimba

Agribusiness Company Grain Pulse limited has developed crop specific blended fertilizers to improve crop productivity. This is the very first company to produce such fertilizers in the country.
Fertilizer blending is balanced nutrition for crops making sure farmers increase their yields and productivity.

The Company has developed 14 top blends for 14 crops so far. The crops are Maize, tomatoes, Irish Potatoes, barely, wheat, millet, coffee, banana, rice, cassava , sun flower et cetara.
Hannington Karuhanga the Chief Executive Officer Grain Pulse says, “We are involved in fertilizer blending, meaning we are giving the right fertilizers for the right crop. Our installed capacity is 300,000 tones of fertilizer blends. It is probably the biggest “ .

Grain Pulse partnered with K+S a Germany company that supplies fertilizers direct from the mines in Germany and blended for specific crops in Mukono.
“We buy right from the mining, in this process of granulation, of blending we get the raw materials as opposed to the getting the finished product” he explained.
When farmers approach Grain Pulse for fertilizer, the company scientists will first test the soils of to know the nutrient deficiency in the soils , and for which crop.
“We’ve developed with top scientists at Makerere University working with NARO, and have 14 blends as of now. And the whole idea is to make sure that we increase their yields. There are cases where we’ve had a factor of four where small farmers holding an acre or half an acre have increased their yields four times” Karuhanga emphasized the benefits of using blended fertilizers

He is now appealing to farmers to embrace crop specific fertilizers which he says has been the missing link in farming.

According to Mr. Karuhanga farmers will be able to maximize their yields and earn from their hard work .
Green Pulse Company this week ended the Growth Uganda Project which it has been implement in northern Uganda under the Public private partnership with the government.
The projected helped farmers in Apach and Dokolo, as well as Mukono improve crop productivity and yields.
Growth Uganda project was able to do close to a thousand demonstration plots in those districts, created infrastructure for agro inputs, and conducted farmer education on how to improve productivity.

While closing the project, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal industry and fisheries Hon. Vincent Bamulanzeki Ssempijja appealed to farmers to produce quality grains and foods in order to benefit more from the international markets.
“This is a very important outlet for our products from the farms. Selling products in their raw forms is a very disastrous thing and of course it does not fetch anything for our farmers: he said.
Minister Ssempijja revealed Ministry of agriculture has embarked on soil suitability mapping to ensure that right crops are grown in a specific soil type in a bid to improve yields.
Green Pulse is also involved in fortifying grains bought from farmers. Their facility in Rwanyonyi Mukono district generates 10,000 tones of fortified grains an hour.

FAO to partner with Agriculture ministry to create employment for youth

By Daudi Zirimala
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO says youth involvement in agriculture is still very poor due to limited access to land has caused high unemployment levels.

Speaking at the media dialogue Edward Tanyima FAOs Youth Programme officer noted that 75.2% of the Uganda’s populations 30 years below are living in rural areas and a few are involved in agriculture yet many youth are having indecent jobs across the country.

He says that FAO in partnership with the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries will integrate youth employment in agricultural policies and planning.

Tanyima says that they have embarked on piloting of a value chain analysis tool for rural youth employment in Uganda and mapping youth employment potentials in selected priority value chains.

FAO and Agriculture ministry to support fishing communities

By Daudi Zirimala
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), together with the Ministry of Agriculture, have today launched a pilot project, dubbed Integrated Livelihood Support to Fishing Communities around Lake Victoria will benefit groups of women and youths in rural poor fishing communities in Kalangala, Kalungu and Masaka districts, with an aim of empowering them to diversify their income sources in fishing and fishing–related activities.

The two-year Project, worth USD 277 000, will provide training and inputs to help beneficiaries to manage economically viable and sustainable interventions in their interest, including but not limited to aquaculture and value addition options for capture fisheries.

According to the minister of Agriculture,animal Industry and Fisheries Vicent Bamulangaki Ssempijja the project comes on the heels of MAAIF’s recognition of the enormous challenges affecting fishing dependent communities, especially women and youth.

He said that the groups have remained marginalized, poor and with limited sustainable sources of income, because of over fishing, decline in fish stocks, illegal fishing, poor fish handling facilities and increased post-harvest losses.

“Unfavorably high competition for fishing grounds, brought about by over capitalization of fishing has also contributed to this dire situation and address some of these challenges, the Government of Uganda instituted management reforms aimed at boosting fish stocks” says Ssempijja.

The project will support interventions aimed at promoting legal fishing methods and gears to vulnerable groups, providing non-fishing livelihood options, efficient post-harvest handling and value addition technologies, economic empowerment of women and youth through SACCOs, as well as building the capacity of the beneficiaries to sustain the benefits.

The FAO Country Representative, Antonio Querido, said that project beneficiary communities will be supported to boost their incomes through additional streams resulting from alternative livelihood options that are at the same time expected to reduce pressure on capture fisheries resources.

“It is our sincere hope that this project will contribute to addressing inadequate diversification of livelihood options among the rural poor fishing communities, especially women and youth, as well as improving the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises,” Querido said.

The fisheries sub-sector contributes about 12 and 3 percent to Uganda’s agricultural and national incomes respectively, demonstrating its huge potential to provide employment, income and food security.

Overall, the sub-sector contributes to the livelihood of nearly 5.3 million people while about one million people are engaged in capture fisheries and about half a million people are engaged in aquaculture. About 5,000 people are employed in fish industrial processing.

Over 1.2 million people are directly dependent on the fisheries sub-sector as their main source of household income.

Furthermore, fish forms an important part of diets, being a major source of critically required animal protein for about one million Ugandans. Through this intervention therefore, FAO and MAAIF will champion responsible and sustainable fishing while creating opportunities for women and youth in fishing communities to diversity incomes from fish-related activities.

Parliamentary Agricultural committee demands to amend the market act soon

By Daudi Zirimala

The legislators on the agricultural committee in parliament have advised government to speed up the process of amending the market act to enable farmers benefit from the produces.

Speaking during the symposium organized by Share an Opportunity Uganda SAO, the Member of Parliament Kapelebyong Julius Ocheng and Abim women MP Janet Okolimol who is also the chairperson the agriculture committee said that the current law on markets is very old and it gives middlemen leverage to cheat on farmers while selling their produces.

They say that the review will address the lack of an appropriate policy and legal framework on markets in Uganda, make proposals to guide market administration and management process.

According to Ocheng, many traders from Kenya use the ignorance of the farmers and cheat on them because they have no capacity to negotiate with then due to absence of a market law.

He says while amending the market act, the government should be compelled to buy the stock of farmers during bumper harvest in order to stabilize the prices of agricultural produces.

“Every stakeholder will be consulted about this law to make sure there is adequate in put in the new to address the emerging issues in the market law” says Janet Okolimol woman MP Abim.

The National Director of Share an Opportunity Florence Suubi said that the market will be determined with the market law is repealed and amended because Farmers in this country should get good service delivery.

UDB obtains UGX 20BN to support agriculture

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda Development Bank (UDB)has obtained a UGX 20 billion loan from the Export –Import Bank of India to lend to Agri-based Small and Medium Sized enterprises(SMEs).

The move is in line with the banks objective of diversifying its funding base, through seeking funding partners to compliment the capitalization from the government.

Patricia Ojangole, the Managing Director,says of the 500bn, capitalization from government as promised in the 2018/19 budget,only about 50% has been obtained.

Meantime the bank is mandated to  finance key growth sectors of the economy  and over the next 5 years, they are slated to devote financial  resources towards supporting sectors of Agriculture and Agro Industrialization, manufacturing, tourism, Human Capital Development and Infrastructure, minerals,oil and gas.

It is in line with these goals that they have been in taklks with the export-import bank of India leading up to the now approved,7-year line of credit worth USD 5Million-(Approximately 20bn)to finance the importation of goods and services from the Republic of India.

While responding to queries on why the funding is skewed towards imports yet the country needs to export more, the Managing Director, noted that some raw materials can only be imported.

‘the funding will further increase capacity of UDB to facilitate production and to support the SME’s, specifically those that require various goods from India’ Ojangole said.

Deepak Kajur,the regional representative export-import Bank of India, noted that the bank, wholly owned by the India government was committed to facilitating international trade and the fund is a climax of the Uganda-India trade relationship dating decades ago, amid optimism of many more partnerships to come recently highlighted by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister’s Visit.

In line with service to Ugandans,UDB has approved over UGX 220bn out of the UGX 300bn worth of credit requests and looking forward to disbursing UGX 100Bn in the next 24 months,according to senior management. In addition,they pride in offering cheaper and attractive credit, averaging at 14% plus being more engaging with clientele at a time when many people are shunning credit offered by commercial banks, whose interest rates average at 24%.