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Farmers in Eastern Uganda receive small grants to tackle climate change

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Mbale, Eastern Uganda – The Government of Uganda together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched small grants to help farmers in the mountainous Elgon region to tackle land degradation and reverse the impact of climate change.

The grants provided under UNDP’s “Integrated Landscape Management for Livelihoods Improvement and Ecosystems Resilience (ILM) project, will be administered through Community Based Organisations (CBOs).

At least 15 CBOs from three districts in Eastern Uganda including; Mbale, Bulambuli and Manafwa received grants totaling to 530 million shillings (approximately $142,368). The grants will be used to procure farm implements which will enable farmers to practice climate smart agricultural practices.

The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Sempijja and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Rosa Malango, who was represented by Ms. Sarah Mujabi, the Programme Officer for Climate Change at the UNDP Uganda Country Office, launched the grants at Mbale District headquarters on July 3rd, 2018.

Each of the three districts local governments also received a Global Positioning System (GPS) to record coordinates of where the intervention has been done, along with a laptop, camera and printer to document and share their success stories.

In a speech read for her by Ms. Mujabi, the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Malango, pointed out that projects such as these were important to address the ruin caused by flooding and landslides which arises from land degradation and climate change which affects the peoples’ daily efforts to fight poverty and hunger and live healthy lives.

“You see this impact in the sorrow of a mother grieving for her near-to-harvest garden that has been washed away or in the tears of a desperate father who must rebuild after the family house was flattened by boulders in the wake of a landslide,” Ms Malango said.

Minister Sempijja and Ms. Mujabi, accompanied by the Mbale District Chairman, Mr Benard Mujaasi and several district and ministry officials also toured the Elgon landscape to witness first-hand the effects of land degradation and climate change on the livelihood of the communities.

“I have never seen something like this,” the Minister said as he inspected gardens in Bushiuyo village, Mbale district, where farmers have dug contours across the slope and planted grass to stop soil erosion.

The Minister was impressed that the implementation of the ILM project is at community level and that farmers are involved in finding solutions to the problems affecting them.

“I am happy to visit projects where people are involved in using scientific methods that can stop soil erosion and landslides,” Minister Sempijja observed.

He proposed that successes of the ILM project be documented and used to develop a template on sustainable land use, which should be distributed to every farmer in the country as a reference.

He also urged the local communities in the mountainous region susceptible to landslides and flooding, to implement the sustainable land use techniques learned under UNDP’s ILM project so that their farming is sustainable, and their land is protected.

“We must stop soil erosion, landslides and flooding to improve our agriculture for better yields,” the Minister said, adding that by trapping all the water from the mountain top, the communities are able to protect the soil’s nutrients from escaping hence boosting its fertility and productivity, hence boosting the farmers’ incomes.

Ms. Malango noted that the ILM project will help Uganda achieve Sustainable Development Goals one on no poverty, goal two on zero hunger), goal13 on climate action and goal 15 on life on land.

The project which started in 2017 will also help Uganda achieve her commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change to reduce 22 percent Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and to increase carbon sequestration.

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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