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Government unveils project to boost agricultural production

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KALUNGU. The minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr Vincent Ssempijja has rolled out a mega project aimed at boosting agricultural production in the country.
The minister commissioned the e-voucher management system under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP) recently at Lukaya Town in Kalungu District.
ACDP is a six-year-intervention partnership of the government of Uganda and the World Bank intended to boost commercial production of five prioritised crops in forty two districts of Uganda.
The crops are maize, beans, cassava, rice, and coffee. They are to be grown in cluster districts known to have big potential for production of the particular crops.

ACDP is a pilot six-year-project to be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAIF) with support from the World Bank. Its objective, according to the Project Brief, is to raise on-farm productivity, production, and marketable volumes of selected agricultural commodities in specified geographical clusters.

“We strongly believe that the commercial production of these crops through the ACDP will contribute to the achievement of per capita income of $1,033 for our people by 2020,”said Mr Ssempijja.
The government began with contacting United Bank for Africa (UBA) to supply, install and maintain an electronic Voucher Management System (e-Voucher) that is to be used to distribute agro inputs to farmers.
National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) undertook to register the participating farmers. A few agro input dealers were contracted to supply the items to ACDP.

How it works
They are to set up retail shops in all the clustered districts where the prioritised crops are to be grown. Agricultural services extension officers will undertake to train all farmers and agro input dealers in the use of agricultural chemicals and other inputs.

The e-voucher management system works in such a way that when a farmer goes to the shop to purchase an item such as a bag of fertilizer, he presents his voucher code to the agro-input dealer and a message or an electronic receipt is sent to his mobile phone confirming that such a transaction has taken place between the him and the input dealer.

So, in the event the fertilizer turns out to be fake, the input dealer is punished with deregistration.
MAIF Commissioner for Crop Inspection and Certification, Mr Paul Mwambu, addressed the gathering at Lukaya and he said the ministry was applying extra vigilance to fight fake agro inputs including fakeseeds.
Mr Ravi Gupta, Business Head of ETG AGRI IMPUTS which is one of the ACDP accredited input dealers told Daily

Monitor in an interview that farmers will have to undergo some training in order to use fertilizers.
The function attracted more than 50 members of parliament, 42 district chairmen, and hundreds of farmers. Mr Ssempijja handed over five brand new four-wheel-drive pick-ups to the districts of Iganga, Amuru,Nebbi, Ntungamo, and Kalungu.

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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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