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%.

Scientist at Namulonge intensifying studies to improve Jackfruit

By Deo Wasswa

National agricultural crops research institute Namulonge has commenced a new study to find the genes (DNA) for various Jack fruits spices in the country.

The Four month research aimed to find out variation species, tastes, understand why some Jack fruits grow in selective areas, and also increase on Jack fruits production to meet the demand.

According to to Racheal Gwokyalya Lwanga, a senior laboratory technician and also the lead researcher, the research has started with 8 (eight) different Jack fruits species from Luweero and  Kayunga districts.
The research will also help the environmentalists to preserve the most desirable Jack fruit species.

Ugandan rice farmers demand protection against cheap imported rice

By Deo Wasswa
Rice farmers in Eastern and Northern Uganda through their association, Rice Association of Uganda have petitioned the 10th parliament to remove the Tax waivers on imported Rice.

According to the association, in 2015, the government  granted waivers to few so called investors to import brown rice on claims that there was low rice production in the country as compared to the demand.

These farmers says, it’s now three years down the load, the few people are still importing this cheap rice without paying any single revenue, and this has left the local production stressed with no market.

The statement presented to journalists by the association chairperson Rachel Kiconco Mbabazi, shows that the waivers granted have resulted in a loss of URA revenue in excess of 218 bn and forex losses to government in excess of 209 bn resulting in a total loss of 509 bn.

Annually close to 50,000 metric tonnes of rice imported to Uganda of which 14,000 tones coming from Tanzania and the rest comes from others countries especially Pakistan


Agriculture minister threatens to close factories producing substandard coffee

By Wasswa Deo
State Minister for Agriculture, Kibazanga Christopher has said that the government will continue to close coffee factories producing substandard coffee products.
The minister further stated that the government will go a head to arrest the owners of the substandard coffee factories.
Kibazanga made the remarks during the launch of preparations for coming  16th African Fine Coffee conference and exhibition to be hosted in Uganda.
The conference slated for February 2018 at Kampala Serena Hotel will bring together over 2000 delegates in coffee industry across the world.
The conference will be organised under the theme, ” sustainable coffee industry for social economic transformation seeks to address challenges affecting coffee industry at global.”
The conference will also provide Uganda with an opportunity to tell it’s coffee story,  meet potential New buyers, discuss the latest trends and research in coffee industry, and also coming up with collective efforts among local coffee farmers in implementing President Museveni directive of increasing coffee production from the current 4million bags to 20 million bags by 2020.

AfrII extends GAP technologies to upland rice farmers in Luwero, Wakiso districts

By Wasswa Deo

The Africa Innovations Institute (AfrII) has embarked on a two year research project to extend Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) or technologies aimed to boost upland rice production in the two districts of Luwero and Wakiso.

Through the project, thirty farmers have been selected to participate in this research through a process with aim to equip them with skills and knowledge in practicing climate smart agriculture to boost production of upland rice of the NAMCHE III variety with aim to contribute to food security and increased well-being of rice producers and consumers in Africa.

According to Professor George William Otim-Nape, the Chairman, Africa Innovations Institute, the project is centered on promoting four good agricultural practices and these include, line sowing, fertilizer application, use of ring hoes ;a weeding tool that enables proper weeding within the rice garden without disturbing the rice in its growth, and Planting the NAMCHE III upland rice variety; a variety is tolerant to climate change effects like drought and tolerant to disease and pests.

AfrII’s research scientists and field technicians will be conducting field observation and monitoring visits to supervise and monitor the farmers during the different activities to ensure proper management of the technologies extended to them.

Experts worry that over use of pesticides is posing danger to human health

The application of hazardous pesticides is on the rise in the country, slowly causing damage to the environment and human health.  Increase in pesticide use is attributed to the threat of pests to commercial crops like tomatoes and Irish potatoes among others.

But Joshua Sikhu Okonya, a research associate with International Potato Center’s Crop and Systems Sciences Division says that the absence of extension services and other safeguards is making the increased use of pesticides disastrous.

Okonya, who has conducted a number of surveys around pesticide use in the country, says farmers have tended to apply pesticides even at times when the threat is not that enormous.  He says dealers tend to profiteer in selling pesticides to unsuspecting farmers.

Okonya’s most recent studies involved pesticide use and knowledge of smallholder potato farmers in Uganda involving districts in the Albert, South Western highlands and eastern highlands.

45 percent of the farmers according to findings of the survey received information about which pesticide to use from other farmers. Only two percent of them received information directly from agricultural extension officers.

When it came to the doses of pesticides, most farmers in the southwestern highlands and eastern highlands relied mostly on their own previous experience.

On average, findings of the study published by BioMed Research International indicated that agro-input shops were the primary source of pesticides in the three agro ecological zones, followed by general household merchandise.

Farmers in all the three agro ecological zones reported some health-related complications resulting from pesticide use. All those that got infections according to Okonya thought it was normal.

Okonya says crops can only be sprayed against fungicides and pests when the perceived damage is likely to be above a given threshold. He adds that other control measures like Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can be applied other than depending on costly pesticides and fungicides.

A study commissioned by Ministry Agriculture in 2014 found that pesticide use was largely poorly regulated. It said monitoring and regulation of the sectors require USD 15 million (53 billion Shillings).

The environment study conducted by Nelson and Associates Environment consultancy said there is lack of human resources to inspect and enforce regulations.

National environment Management Authority has warned that the contamination of water bodies with pesticides can pose a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems and drinking water resources.

Source Of Pesticides

There are no agricultural pesticides manufactured or formulated in Uganda. Suppliers of imported pesticides come mainly from India, China, Taiwan, Israel, Europe or branch offices of international companies in Kenya.

There are a number of wholesalers, who distribute to small scale stockists, mostly in Kampala but also in the interior. Container Village, a section near the Balikuddembe market in Kampala, is home to thriving business for agricultural pesticides and fungicides and other agricultural inputs

Nelson and Associates Environment Consultancy found another challenge with how to dispose agrochemicals and generally pesticides. Only UPDF-owned Luwero Industries would meet requirements for incinerating pesticides.

Ministry of Agriculture had reportedly been granted permission to utilize Luwero Industries facility for pesticide disposal at 1500 Shillings per kilo of pesticide incinerated. The ministry found the cost to high.