Verification exercise for Planting materials begins ahead of Planting season

By Gloria Nakiyimba

The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) has commenced the verification exercise for seeds and seedlings ahead of the planting season that is expected to begin in March 2021.

As farmers wait for stable rains to begin planting, NAADS has commenced the verification of seeds and seedlings that will be distributed to farmers under the Government initiative to contribute to the transformation of the agricultural sector through the provision of agricultural inputs, agribusiness and value chain development for improved household food security and incomes.

The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon. Vincent Ssempijja recently warned farmers to desist from early planting of their crops due to the unstable season with minimal rainfall. As the farmers wait for the stable rains, NAADS Secretariat has embarked on the exercise to verify the planting materials (seeds and seedlings) that are to be procured by NAADS and distributed to the farmers.

The exercise is aimed at ensuring the quality for all planting materials and ascertaining the available quantities of materials produced by the suppliers. The ultimate goal is to achieve improved production and productivity for the planting materials to be supplied.

A team consisting of technical officers from NAADS Secretariat, NARO and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries was constituted to conduct the exercise which commenced last week. The team is supported by technical Officers from District Local Governments in the respective Agro-ecological zones. The team is visiting different seed stores (maize and beans), and nursery beds for mango & citrus seedlings, pineapple suckers and cassava cuttings across the different ecological zones in the country.

This exercise which is expected to take two weeks will cover all the contracted suppliers of Mango and Citrus Seedlings, pineapple Suckers as well as Cassava cuttings in Six Mango Citrus Clusters, four (4) Pineapple Clusters and cassava specified regions respectively with in the different Agro-ecological zones across the Country.

According to the Executive Director NAADS, the information collected from the exercise is to be used during allocation of the respective categories of planting materials to different suppliers and subsequently to prepare call off orders for the supply of materials.

NAADS in collaboration with Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) will supply planting materials including maize and bean seed, mango seedlings, citrus seedlings, pineapple suckers, cassava cuttings and cashew nuts seedlings in the selected clusters/regions across the country. The materials are for the first planting season of the year 2021 which starts in March 2021.

Maize production increases Uganda’s export earnings

By Gloria Nakiyimba

Over the years, commercial production of maize has increased and contributed partially to increased adoption of improved maize varieties by farmers provided by NAADS and other partners.

Whereas maize is predominantly a staple food crop, it is also an important cash crop contributing to household incomes and national export earnings.

Maize production statistics based on district returns to UBOS show a steady increase overtime from 1.17 million Metric Tonnes in 2001 to about 2.55 million Metric Tonnes in 2011 and above 4 million Metric tones inn 2018.

Following the significant increase in maize production, there was an outcry of lack of market from the farmer.

This prompted the government through NAADS to provide simple milling facilities at rural level. NAADS has strategically considered supporting farmers with maize milling facilities to take care of the value addition needs at rural level.
NAADS distributes milling equipment to farmers as one of the initiatives to reduce post-harvest losses as well bring value addition facilities closer to the farming households for improvement of livelihoods and rural incomes.

Apart from offering a quick market to the farmers, the milling equipment provides value addition solutions to the farmers and ultimately increases their incomes.

To date, NAADS has distributed 105 maize mills to farmers organized in farmer groups/organizations or associations/ cooperative societies.

One of the beneficiary associations is Kigumba Produce Buyers and millers’ association in Kiryandongo district.

The secretary to the association Daniel Baliddawa says with the mill they received from NAADS, they have managed to acquire land where they are to construct their permanent home, they have made some savings from which they give small loans to the members

Pasture improvement program increases dairy farmers output

By Gloria Nakiyimba

Dairy farmers in the country say the support they received from the National Agriculture Advisory Services-NAADS has been crucial in the improvement of productivity of dairy enterprise through value addition.

NAADS has so far given out a total of 40 tractors to support 600 dairy farmers in selected districts for opening of the land for improved pastures.

Farmers use the tractors to dig the land and later grow pastures of good quality which they feed the animals leading to improved milk production.

Dr. Samuel Mugasi the executive director of the National Agricultural Advisory Services says the secretariat embarked on a program for improving the productivity of the dairy enterprise through a strategic intervention for pasture improvement.

For the last couple of years NAADS has been running a pasture improvement program in Western Uganda which is a milk shed for Uganda.

The pilot phase of the pasture improvement initiative was implemented in selected districts in the South Western region of Uganda including Kiruhura, Mbarara, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Sembabule, Lyantonde, Ibanda and Sheema.

“Under this pasture program we have been working with farmers by training them to grow improved pasture and we have been training them in dry season feeding for example by production of hay and silage. And we have taken this project a higher level by providing tractors to dairy cooperatives, we gave them initial seeds and farmers have been able to multiply these seeds among themselves to increase the availability of pasture seeds , because pasture seed is very rare on the market” said Dr, Mugasi

According to Dr. Mugasi you cannot have a productive dairy sector without proper animal feeding.

NAADS has also provided improved cross breeds of heifers to farmers across the country to increase milk production

“As a country we are producing over 2.5 billion litres of milk per year which is very good and statistics show Uganda could take over to be number one in milk production “ he said.

In Luuka district dairy farmers say the tractor that they received from NAADS has helped them increase milk production leading to improved household incomes.

“We thank NAADS because there is improvement in pasture production. We thank NAADS for bringing us a tractor and many farmers are using it. The only challenge is one we don’t have enough equipment, we have only one equipment. Secondly in our terrain we have a lot of trees which need a bulldozer. It’s not easy for us to remove all those tree stumps manually. So farmers are willing to use the tractor but those two challenges are hindering them to use it profitably” said a beneficiary.

The forty tractors were accessed through a cluster arrangement that targeted over 600 dairy farmers in the region.

The initiative was aimed at increasing milk production to meet the increasing demand of Milk and milk products locally and internationally. The target entailed raising farm productivity ten-fold from the current average of 1 litre of milk per acre per day to 10 litres per acre per day, and animal productivity from 5 litres per day to 20 litres per day, by revolutionizing cattle feeding through farm mechanization.

“To me I feel that dairy is a better project for the farmers in Uganda, what we need to do is to improve on the breed and add value to it , because one farmer can get from one cow about 500,000 a month from one local dairy cattle. So let us go back to dairy it is cheap to look after, when you want solar, they see a cow they can lend you money” said Patrick Wakabi one of the beneficiaries of the NAADS programs

As part of the pasture improvement initiative, MAIIF/NAADS availed 40 tractors and implements to support dairy farmers in the region for opening of the land for improved pastures.

NAADS procured and distributed an additional 208 tractors under the agricultural mechanization program in all districts across the country for mechanizing farm operations bringing the total number of tractors distributed to 320.

The secretariat did not stop at improving pasture for dairy farmers, but has gone ahead to donate computerised coolers to dairy farmers for better storage of their milk.

Dairy farmers in Kamuli say they are now able to earn more money from selling tested and quality milk thanks to NAADS that gave Buzaya dairy farmers a new cooler.

According to Edward Lwanga Kunina the program coordinator of Buzaya dairy farmers the cooler has the capacity to bulk more than 2000 litres of milk serving eight sub counties

“Because we are working in eight sub counties in Kamuli district, then it means that very many dairy farmers are benefiting out of this cooler. And in each sub county atheist we have around 50 farmers benefiting. We have milk collection centres in every sub county where our coordinators go and pick that milk and bring it to the cooler. We offer good competitive prices for the milk being brought to the cooler”said Kunina

Since FY 2012/13 to date, NAADS has distributed 121 milk cooling and handling equipment to dairy farmer cooperatives in various parts of the country in order to promote production and marketing of milk and milk products along the dairy value chain.

Milk coolers ensure bulking is done at all levels of production, easing transportation as milk tankers find reasonable volumes in one place and they also stimulate development in the area as different service providers will converge at the cooler.