SolarNow provides environmental friendly power options to farmers

By Daudi Zirimala

Farmers in Uganda can now smile after SolarNow a leading supplier of modular solar home system in Uganda pledged to provide farmers with modern irrigation solar systems to boast their productivity.

This was revealed by Chief of Operations Solar Now Lars Johannisson while receiving certification as a B corporation due to the impact Solar Now makes in the communities.

According to Lars, solar Irrigation systems the way to go because many farmers cannot wait for rainy seasons to plant their crops with affordable irrigation system Ugandans can boast agriculture.

He says SolarNow has installed solar systems to households,small businesses,schools and hospitals which has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by around 420 C02 tons.

Certified B corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance,public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

Ugandan farmers warned against poor animal welfare

By Gloria Nakiyimba
Ugandan farmers stand to miss out on the opportunities available in international market for animal products if they continue to ignore animal welfare issues.  Doctor Victor Yamo , humane and sustainable Agriculture campaign manager  at World Animal Protection Kenya, says  farmers have to divorce themselves from poor animal keeping practices  in order to increase productivity at the farms and access international markets that pay well  for animal products.
According to Dr. Yamo,   like human beings, animals too have freedoms they must enjoy on the farm. The five basic animal freedoms are; Freedom from hunger and thirst.   Animals must be fed well with whole nutritious meals and given enough water.  Animals should not suffer from mal nutrition while on the farm.  Dr. Yamo says a well fed cow, can provide more milk, meat, the same applies to pigs and chicken. Layer er chicken fed with right food he says give off more eggs compared to malnourished ones while well fed broilers gain required weight effortlessly.
Animals also enjoy freedom from discomfort, both physical and thermal.  Farmers are advised to provide appropriate shelter for the animals and comfortable resting place. He says animals should not be squeezed in small shelters where they are can easily stampede and eventually die.
For instance chicks hoarded in a small room end up dying or eating one another which is usually a loss to a farmer. Freedom from pain and injury.  Dr. Yamo says farmers should be able to make quick diagnosis and provide treatment to sick animals as well as prevent disease from attacking the animals which would affect their productivity.
If a farmer wishes to make good profits, he should provide sufficient and proper space for the animals to express their normal behaviors.  Dr Yamo says poultry birds should be able to perch, and enjoy a dust bath than being caged in small houses where their freedom to express their natural behavior is abused.
Animals are sentient beings and must enjoy freedom from fear and distress.  A farmer should show some love to the animals. All animals under human control including hens, pigs, cattle, dogs, cats et cetera must enjoy these freedoms for the farmer to be able to reap big from them.
Ugandan farmers should abandon certain poor practices which animal welfare protection movement says could end up making  the country’s animal products blacklisted  from the international market.
Dr Yamo says the practice of hording cattle in a lorry and tying their tails is one of the most inhumane treatment of animals. He says by the time these animals get to the slaughter house, they are distressed, and release hormones that make their meat not suitable for international market consumption.
Another inhumane animal practice is that of chaining chicken on boda bodas with their heads looking down and transporting them on top of commuter taxes while they are tightly tied which is not allowed under animal welfare.
Doctor Yamo reveals that international restaurants like fast food restaurants like KFC, Burger King, and Carrefour among others are now demanding for cage free animal products.
They are now demanding for cage free chicken, eggs as they seek to give quality products to their clientele which keeps growing every day.
This is because of the increasing demand for organic foods including organic meat, eggs, milk, and pork.
Ugandans must tap into such ready markets by meeting the set standards for poultry, dairy, and pig farmers.
Speaking at training by World Animal Protection group in Kampala, Sylvia Baluka the president of the Uganda Veterinary Association advised Poultry farmers not to allow people to visit chicken houses in order to prevent their birds from getting diseases.
In her opinion visitors carry pathogens to the chicken house which exposes them to diseases. Veterinary officers are also warned against using the same gumboots and overall coats on different farms makes animals prone to infections.
It instead recommended that vets ask farmers to provide these gadgets to avoid   hopping from one farmer to another in the same working gears.

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.


The rain season hasn’t started ,Meteorological Authority warns farmers

The National Meteorological Authority has cautioned farmers against planting new crops with slight isolated rains being experienced in the central and eastern parts of the country.

The Authority’s Director in Charge of Observations Paul Isabirye says rains being experienced in areas around Lake Victoria Basin and parts of eastern Uganda are not the start of the rain season.

Isabirye explains that the rain around Lake Victoria and Eastern Uganda are a result of some systems in surface temperatures which cannot hang on for a very long time.
He says the overall picture indicates that dry conditions are going to continue during the month of February with some intermittent rains in the Lake Victoria Basin, South- Western parts of the country.

Some parts of Eastern Uganda will continue to be dry in February with some rains expected around mid-month in mountainous areas.
Dry conditions persisted across the country with exception of two isolated cases, within Lake Victoria Basin, and South western region which had marginal wet conditions.

The highest amount of rainfall recorded during this period was 12.8 mm recorded in a single day at Kituza Coffee research station in Mukono district followed by 7.1mm recorded at Kabale station.
According to Isabirye, the hazy and windy conditions are expected to continue prevailing over the country.

The current drought in in Uganda and its neighbors has been blamed on La Niña. The La Niña condition has had a devastating effect on crop production, livestock body conditions, and is already trigger water conflicts in Teso, Lango with their Karimojong neighbors.

La Niña increases the likelihood of both above-average and below-average rainfall in certain areas of eastern Africa.

La Niña causes opposite conditions to those associated with El Niño: areas now experiencing drought are likely to face flooding, and areas that have seen excessive rainfall are likely to experience drought.

Fortunately, the La Niña condition is in dying condition according to Paul Isabirye.

The next weather forecast is expected to be announced next week after the Great Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GACOF) meeting in Ethiopia. Wether experts from Uganda, Kenya and other Inter-Governmental Authority on Development(IGAD) member states will come out with detailed predictions for the region and individual countries.

Great Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GACOF) is being organized at a time when La Niña related impacts are being experienced and are predicted to persist during the first quarter of 2017 for some countries.

This La Niña event was preceded by a very strong El Niño event in 2015/16. The impacts of the 2016/17 La Niña and other major global and regional climate systems will be addressed in at the 45th session Great Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum.





Lamwo trade fare dominated mostly my bars and gambling firms

The 2016 joint trade fair organized by the Business Leaders Forum in Lamwo and Kitgum district has registered an appalling performance, one week after its commencement.

The trade fair is ongoing at Boma Grounds in Kitgum district under the theme “Leveraging the profit capacity of business enterprises in northern Uganda through value addition”.

According to the organisers, the trade fair had targeted 200 exhibitors across the region and others from the Democratic Republic of Congo- DRC, Kenya and Tanzania.

However, about 100 local bars, restaurants and gamblers have shown up.  It was hoped the exhibition would provide people in the region especially farmers, an opportunity to acquire skills of boosting their production and improve their competitiveness and profitability through value addition.

Margaret Ocitti Atek, the event manager says the turn up of exhibitors is generally low.

Lillian Creedy Akello, an exhibitor of clothes says she has failed to realize the money she spent on the stall because of the poor turn up.

Immaculate Lanyero Angel, an exhibitor of African crafts told URN on Wednesday that she hadn’t sold a single item she set up her stall.

This is the fifth time the districts are holding the trade fair that was initiated in 2012. The trade fair registered the highest number of exhibitors in 2014, where 174 people exhibited.

President warns farmers against wasting operation wealth creation seedlings

President Museveni has said that farmers who neglect seedlings distributed under the Operation Wealth Creation-OWC programme face arrest.

Museveni said that a law will soon be put in place to make it criminal for a person who receives government products but doesn’t put them to use.

“Don’t collect what you don’t want. Why should you ask for the seedlings then keep them in your house? I want a law that will punish such people,” Museveni said.

He was on Monday speaking in Katebwa Sub County, Kabarole district during an assessment exercise of the OWC programme.

Museveni’s comments were in response to Major Swaibu Thembo, the OWC coordinator for Bunyangabu County, who told the President that the programme was facing challenges among them negligence  of the farmers.

Thembo said that in the past three months, more than 3,000 coffee seedlings have been distributed to farmers in Bunyangabu, but some farmers refused to plant them and have rotted, despite requesting for the seedlings.

According to the President, the government has spent billions of money to purchase the seedlings, but it’s unfortunate that they are not being put to use.

The President also asked the OWC commanders and district extension officers to educate the beneficiaries of the programme on good farming methods.

“Before you supply the seedlings, teach the farmers the good agricultural practices and the advantages of growing tea or coffee,” Museveni said.

Steven Muhindo, the chairperson Katebwa Sub County Farmers Association, admits that some farmers are negligent, while others resell the seedlings. He however noted that some of the seedlings are left to rot because the farmers don’t have enough land where to plant them.

Operation Wealth Creation which is run by Uganda People’s Defence Forces Soldiers – UPDF replaced National Agricultural Advisory Services – NAADS extension services programme in 2014. Currently UPDF soldiers are overseeing the distribution of seedlings to farmers.

In different parts of the country, negligence of farmers, lack of monitoring, poor quality seedlings and distribution of inputs to unprepared farmers are some of the challenges affecting the progress of the programme.

In August, the Kabarole district Production Coordinator Salvatore Abigaba was arrested for allegedly forging signatures of beneficiaries of the programme.