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FAO boosts sunflower farmers in Kwania district



After harvest, the farmers in their group sell their produce between sh1,200 and sh1,500 per kilogramme, to Mukwano Group.


Although the general perception about northern Uganda after a 20-year-old Lord’s Resistance Army insurgence is that it is a helpless population, the reality is different.

Many took up commercial agriculture, which is changing their fortunes.

“We cannot leave our people to depend on handouts from charity organisations,” Martin Ameu, a country representative from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Uganda, says.

Agriculture being the mainstay of Uganda’s economy was the easiest way to help the region recover economically.

One association taking the lead in the region’s transformation is Mitip Farmers’ Group.

Christine Akello, one of the leaders of the groups, says after the insurgence, many of the people in Lira, Apac, Kwania and neighbouring districts, depended on handouts.

Her group took a lead to stamp out the dependence on handouts.

In 2015, Mitip group, in partnership with FAO, trained over 500 farmers in villages of Agweng, Ogur, Agur and Aromo in Lira district and Ongoceng and Aduku in Kwania district, on how to grow maize and sunflower profitably.

Effort paying off

Ketty Okello Otim, 67, one of the first beneficiaries of the training, cultivated sunflower on four acres and harvested 5,500kg in 2016.

“I got my first seedlings from Lira district and it is called Agsun-8251 sunflower because they got bigger heads and produce more seeds than other varieties,” Okello says.

She harvests 1,400- 1,500kg of sunflower seeds per acre every season.

Last year, Okello harvested 6,000kg of sunflower with every acre taking about 20kg of seed.

Over the years, through research, workshops and lessons from established sunflower farmers in the region and experts from FAO, Okello has learnt about the best varieties and practices, hence improving her returns.

She stores her harvest in silos that were donated to her by FAO.

Okello says her sunflower seed does not deteriorate while in storage, thus fetching a good price.

Previously, Okello used to cultivate groundnuts, but got low yields and low returns from the crop.

“I used to grow simsim and groundnuts, but they were affected by the weather, unlike sunflower,” Okello recounts.

She is one of the active women in the mostly women-dominated group

“I always want to get better yields than the men, to prove that women are also capable,” she says.

Using proceeds from sunflower, she has bought two cows, goats and ably caters for her children in school, following her husband’s death.

 Good price

After harvest, the farmers in their group sell their produce between sh1,200 and sh1,500 per kilogramme, to Mukwano Group.

This means that from the 5,000kg that Okello produces per season, she earns about sh11m.

“Compared to other crops, such as maize, this was a good harvest from just four acres,” she says.

In the same area, the average financial returns from an acre of maize is sh600,000.


Okello and other sunflower farmers bulk their produce to Mukwano Group.

“We sell a kilogramme of dry sunflower seeds at sh1,500-sh1,700”.

The price on the open market sometimes depends on the location. Alfred Odur, who deals in sunflower business, says it is between sh3,000 and sh3,500.

Okello and other farmers grow the crop twice a year hence earning more compared to other crops.

According to Atim, there are fewer sunflower farmers in the region than are needed to meet the demand from oil companies.

Ameu said FAO had brought together farmers by forming groups from village level to the regional and that this has given them a common market and bargaining power.

Obura said farmers in the regional level sell their grains to South Sudan beside domestic market.

How farmers are benefiting

A total of 1,600 farmers belonging to 80 groups (each composed of at least 50% women members) have been trained on the use of improved post-harvest handling technologies for sunflower and maize.

The improved technologies piloted included 30 units of 500-litre plastic silos, 60 units of 750-litre metallic silos, two grain cocoons (hermetic plastic bags), one improved drying yard, tarpaulins, maize cribs and triple-layer hermetic bags.

Ameu said FAO aided over 30 silos each, estimated between sh500,000 and sh1m in the districts of Lira and Kwania, to help farmers access clean and quality seeds.

Ameu says trained farmers have not only learnt to produce clean and quality seeds, but also good practices of silos use marketing, environmental management and conservation, rain harvesting and farming, in a sustainable manner.

One of the basic technologies is the use of silos for seed multiplication.

 How COVID-19 has affected the sunflower business

Okello said COVID-19 is affecting their market; that farmers are not as active as they were before the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is continuing to affect us. Some of our members are not contributing as they were doing before because they thought the produce would not be on demand.

“The pandemic was a wake-up call for the need to transform our food systems to make them more efficient and sustainable.

Tackling food loss, waste and, particularly, postharvest loss reduction in Africa is essential to achieve that goal,” FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, said.

According to FAO analysts, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused consumers in many low-income countries to purchase only staple carbohydrates and nonperishables, resulting in perishable food often being wasted in markets.

Studies commissioned by FAO before the pandemic estimate that on-farm losses in the sub-Saharan Africa for fruits and vegetables are up to 50%, the highest in the world.

For cereals and pulses, the on-farm losses are up to 18%, equal highest in the world with parts of Asia.

Reducing food losses on farms and at harvest time, particularly in countries with high levels of food insecurity, can make great inroads towards food security and improved nutrition.

Such changes are a responsibility shared by governments, the private sector, civil society, development agencies, research and academic institutions and consumers.

How to grow sunflower

Isa Odongo, a farmer, explains that one should start with ploughing the shamba, until the soils are fine. A farmer then applies manure, especially chicken droppings or cow dung.

According to Odongo, he puts manure before planting and, after three weeks, she plants. The seeds are planted at a spacing of half a metre and in a straight line, to make weeding easy.

Sunflower takes four to five months to mature.

Sunflowers grow best on well-drained, high water-holding capacity soils with a nearly neutral pH of 6.5-7.5. A farmer can get their soil samples tested to establish the pH.

Fertiliser applications should be made based on a soil test to determine what quantities of nitrate-nitrogen and sulphate-sulphur, as well as phosphorus and potassium a farmer needs to apply.

Fertilisers should be placed beside and below the seed during planting.

Odongo also says sunflowers need to be placed in moisture, but not deeper than three inches, about 7.6 cm.

Simon Obura, an agricultural officer, said they teach the farmers to prevent diseases that are likely to attack their crops by using organic methods.

Organic farming is emphasised, which is cost-effective since it does not require one to apply herbicides and pesticides.

Farmers can also easily adapt organic farming because it is similar to traditional methods that involve bush furrowing and burning.

Atim, however, warns that sunflower requires care and frequent weeding, hence labour intensive, compared to other popular crops.

Sunflower takes four to five months to mature.

Sunflowers grow best Fertiliser applications should be made based on a soil test to determine what quantities of nitrate-nitrogen and sulphate-sulphur, as well as diseases that are likely to attack their crops by using organic methods.

Organic farming is emphasised, which is cost-effective since it does not require one to apply herbicides and pesticides.

Farmers can also easily adapt organic farming because it is similar to traditional methods that involve bush furrowing and burning.

Atim, however, warns that sunflower requires care and frequent weeding, hence labour intensive, compared to other popular crops.

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National Coffee Forum Petitions Parliament Over UCDA Merger



Coffee stakeholders through National Coffee Forum say UCDA merger will disrupt the coffee sub-sector. Coffee is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange for Uganda

Coffee stakeholders through the National Coffee Forum – Uganda (NCF – UG) has petitioned Parliament through the Speaker over the proposed mainstreaming of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) into Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The government plans to merge a number of Agencies to the line Ministries in a move aimed at saving about Shs1 trillion annually. If the move succeeds, UCDA will be taken to MAAIF.

However, coffee stakeholders through NCF – UG say that they find the proposal to take UCDA to MAAIF untenable and detrimental to the coffee sub-sector.

NCF-UG is a private foundation whose membership includes farmers, processors, exporters, roasters, brewers and researchers, among others.

The Forum Chairperson Francis Wakabi says that mainstreaming the entity will negatively affect the achievements Uganda has attained in coffee production and export.

“This decision will negatively affect our access to the international market and will stunt Uganda’s economic growth opportunities by distorting the functions of UCDA that have stabilized the industry over the years,” said Wakabi in a petition dated February 21, 2024. The petition was copied in to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as well as all MPs.

He adds that Uganda should not risk its achievements by tampering with UDCA that is the main contributor to our coffee success story.

“Mainstreaming it would therefore disrupt the many livelihoods that depend on the industry and adversely affect the badly needed foreign exchange for the country,” the petition reads in part.

As a result of UCDA coffee regulation, Wakabi says that Uganda’s competitiveness was elevated on the global market, ensuring high quality Uganda coffee and enabling Uganda’s coffee to displace that of Brazil and India in Italy and UK coffee markets.

“… World over, coffee is supervised and regulated by a specialized body like UCDA for purposes of institutional memory and specialized focus. Experience from Ethiopia and Kenya who disbanded their specialized coffee authorities and mainstreamed them back into the relevant ministries had to reverse their decisions after registering negative outcomes,” said Wakabi.

The Forum further says that the European Union (EU) buys over 60% of Uganda coffee, making it the biggest market for Uganda.

“The EU has introduced a new regulation called the EU deforestation regulations (EUDR) which bans export of coffee from deforested land, taking effect from 2025. This calls for farmer traceability and the EU commission in Uganda is already working with UCDA to implement the said regulations. They require a country to constantly monitor deforested areas and map all the farmers for purposes of implementation of the farmer traceability program to maintain a high standard of quality. It was reported that Uganda has achieved most of the requirements under the EUDR and required a few steps to be declared compliant. Monitoring and implementing the scheme for the millions of farmers is a tedious activity which requires a specialized unit that can be best implemented using the already established structures of UCDA. Disrupting the current UCDA structure will not only halt the progress made in achieving compliance, but also risk reversing the gains made,” added Wakabi.

He avers that UCDA has been able to greatly contribute to Uganda’s improved Coffee quality through implementation of programs such as certification of Coffee nurseries to ensure quality of planting materials, Provision of Coffee specific extension services and agronomy to improve production and productivity, Provision of technical expertise in Coffee rehabilitation, post-harvest handling practices and pest and disease management and provision of coffee processing equipment like wet mills to farmers and cooperatives to improve quality and promote value addition. The coffee stakeholders are worried that once UCDA is taken to MAAIF which is loaded with many crops and projects, coffee, a key source of foreign exchange for Uganda may not get the necessary priority. Coffee stakeholders argue that if indeed Parliament is a people-centred institution, it should listen to the views of farmers and other stakeholders and retain UCDA as a semi-autonomous agency.

“Given the above position with the attendant reasons, the NCF advises that the proposed mainstreaming of UCDA into MAAIF should not be implemented and that the proposed Bill No. 30 (part VII) be dropped in order not to disrupt the industry and the progress made under the stewardship of UCDA. All coffee stakeholders are unanimously in agreement with this position,” reads the petition in part.


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Govt to import 10 million vaccines to control cattle disease



Entebbe, Uganda.  Government is set to import 10 million doses of vaccines to enable scaling up of ring vaccination as the fight to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ugandan cattle enters a new phase.

Cabinet chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday also proposed that once ring vaccination is complete, farmers start paying for the FMD vaccines in a compulsory vaccination scheme, and thereafter, trade in animal products, will be restricted to those adhering to the plan.

Minister of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fishers Frank Tumwebazwe on Monday shared the resolutions after Cabinet laid out strategies to contain the disease that has hit 36 districts.

Cabinet agreed to create a revolving fund to enable procurement of sufficient FMD vaccines to facilitate compulsory bi-annual vaccination of the susceptible domestic animal population. It also approved a plan for farmers to pay for the vaccines while government covers other costs.

“Vaccination is to be made compulsory. Proof of vaccination will be a precondition for any farmer to sell any animal products,” said Minister Tumwebazwe.

“I appeal to fellow livestock farmers and stakeholders to understand and appreciate these effort as we steadily move to eradicate FMD in Uganda just like other animal diesases like rinderpest wre eradicated.”

Ntoroko veterinary disease surveillance team conducting FMD surveillance and sample collection

The 36 districts currently affected and under quarantine are Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Bunyangabu, Butaleja, Fortportal City, Gomba, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kasanda, Kayunga, Kazo, Kiboga, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kumi, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyotera, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mityana, Mpigi, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namisindwa, Ngora, Ntungamo, Rakai, Rwampara and Sembabule.

All districts neighboring the affected districts are at high risk, under strict surveillance, and the authorities have been advised to remain vigilant.

These include Apac, Amolatar, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Katakwi, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Masindi, Mayuge, Mukono, Namalemba, Nakapiripirit,
Palisa, Rukungiri, Sironko, Wakiso and Soroti.

Tumwebaze assured farmers that in the next one or two months, his Ministry expects to receive and dispatch 2.3 million doses of the FMD vaccine to the affected and susceptible districts for ring vaccination scale-up.

He told parliament earlier that as a way of increasing availability of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines in the country,
Uganda’s National Agiculture Research Organisation (NARO) has started the process of formulating and developing an FMD vaccine for Uganda.

Source: The independent

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Farmers losing Shs4 trillion due to livestock diseases



ScienceDirect has revealed that farmers in Uganda lose more than $1.1b (Shs4.1 trillion) in aggregated annual direct and indirect loss due to the rising spread of tick-borne animal challenges, with the commonest and economically damaging tick-borne disease being the East Coast Fever.

The livestock industry in Uganda and its productivity continue to be threatened by a number of diseases many of which are tick-borne related.

This, Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioner animal health, said results from arcaricides that have become resistant, thus the need to ensure collaboration and get solutions to the problem.

“There are ongoing efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to support diagnosis of tick resistance to acaricides at regional laboratory centres but this is not enough,” she said during the livestock industry key stakeholders meeting in Kampala, which had been convened to discuss and prioritise areas for tick control.

The stakeholders included veterinarians, extension staff, farmers, processors and government representatives.

Ministry of Agriculture is already working on the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative, which seeks to, among others, provide sustainable solutions to enable small-scale farmers maximise the potential of their cattle by developing and practicing methods that can successfully manage tick infections in cattle.

During the meeting, the TickAcademy App, which will support farmers in managing tick infestations was also pre-launched.

By the end of January, farmers and extension workers will be able to access the app’s educational content, which includes simple-to-watch films, to help them become knowledgeable about tick control.

Mr Enrique Hernández Pando, the GALVmed head of commercial development and impact, said the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative will be important in tackling acaricide resistance challenges as well as help farmers and animal health officers to access creative methods of addressing the problem of acaricide resistance.

During the meeting, stakeholders jointly agree to train and sensitise field staff and farmers about tick management strategies that work, as well as strengthen the diagnostic infrastructure and testing capabilities for tick resistance and other animal health-related concerns.

Others will involve making it easier for farmers to obtain credit from savings institutions run by farmer groups at a reasonable cost so they may purchase specialized equipment for applying pesticides.

Mr Nishal Gunpath, the Elanco Animal Health country director south and sub-Saharan Africa, said they will support the Initiative to drive livestock in a better direction, noting that it will also help small-scale livestock farmers to maximise their potential.

Original Source: Daily Monitor

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