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Govt to procure scanners to detect fake agric inputs

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Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja

All imported agricultural inputs imports will be passed through gamma ray scanners at all points of entry, authorities have revealed.

Inputs deemed unfit for the market will be blocked at that point and, subsequently, the importer will be suspended indefinitely.

According to the agriculture ministry, importation of agricultural inputs will be limited to just a handful of people, and just those dealing in genuine products.

These measures are part of the new plans by the agricultural ministry, intended to curb the distribution of fake agricultural fertilisers, seeds and pesticides.

Farmers lose millions of shillings annually due to poor yields as a result of using fake inputs on the market.

How the technology works

Vincent Ssempijja, the agriculture minister, said they are in the final stages of procuring contractors who will setup gamma-ray scanners at both the airports and border points for that purpose.

The minister made the remarks yesterday ( Tuesday, September 15, 2020) in an interview with New Vision, just after addressing journalists on the second cropping season at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.

Ssempijja said the procurement and installation of scanners will cost an estimated $28m (about sh103b).

“Counterfeits have greatly affected us on the international market.

Our produce has received a red flag and it is hurting the sector. We hope that when we introduce this technology, we will weed out the wrong characters,” he said.

The scanners, he said, will be linkedo other existing inspection systems used by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and that used by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

This will enable tracking of the consignments, both from the country of origin, through the ports and to the

final customer.

Once the consignment reaches the border point, samples will not be picked like it is currently done.

Instead, the gamma-ray scannerswill scan through the container and establish whether they conform to what the source company released.

“If the source companies are the trouble causers, we will also suspend them. But we know, the biggest cause of counterfeits are concocted by dealers,” Ssempijja said.

According to him, the dealerschange the original inputs and rebrand them after mixing counterfeits.

Much as he said that the technology will come soon, he declined to give the projected dates and the source of the funds.

He also asked farmers to always note that all quality farm inputs have a hard quality seal from the agricultural ministry. Those without, he said, should not be bought.

“Every farmer should keep the container of whatever input they buy from a dealer. They should also keepreceipts. Once the input fails to work, report to the sub-county extension workers who will report to the district and we will have feedback at the headquarters.

Immediately, the dealer or company will be suspended,” he said.

Last year, the European Union reportedly accused Uganda of exporting poor quality products and also of shipping products that presented with high contents of poorly mixed agrochemicals used to treat or preserve them.

Subsequently, the EU reportedly rejected and destroyed several consignments of agriculture exports shipped to Europe recently.

Every imported item into EU is checked to verify if it conforms to the set standards. Items that fall short of these standards are intercepted.

According to the EU, the measures are vital to protect human and animal health.

What farmers say

Grace Musimami, the publicity secretary at the Uganda National Farmers Federation, welcomed the development, but asked government to crack a whip on traders in counterfeit inputs.

“We have made this a song. We need hefty penalties on whoever is found with counterfeits.

Most of these people are known and there is nothing done to them. Once counterfeits are got, they just destroy them and that’s all. We should ban those people from operating in the sector,” he said.

In addition, he said, the ministry should deploy input inspectors at all levels who will help farmers detect counterfeits.

Ssempijja warned that the second season of crops is expected to be short, with rains expected to stop in December.

At the moment, he said, farmers would have planted as early as August.

He advised farmers to plant early-maturing crops and drought-resistant ones.

Source: New Vision

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FAO launches solar powered irrigation systems in Kalungu

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FAO Country Representative Dr. Antonio Querido, Agriculture Minister Vincent Ssempijja flanked by Kalungu District leadership during the commissioning of a solar irrigation system in Bugomola A, Lwebenge Sub County in Kalungu

KALUNGU — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO,) last week, launched two solar powered irrigation systems in Kalungu District. The projects are part of efforts to strengthen resilience of rural populations and agricultural production systems through the provision of water for irrigation in the the cattle corridor districts.

FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries – MAAIF has been implementing a Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) Project on agriculture adaptation to climate change in Uganda since 2012 — through the establishment of small scale irrigation systems in the Central Cattle Corridor districts of Mubende, Nakasongola, Luwero, Kiboga, Nakaseke, Sembabule, Kalungu and Rakai amongst others, to help farmers cope with harsh climatic conditions by sustaining all season crop production, but mainly during the dry seasons.

Residents in Bugomola A, Lwebenge Sub County and Mabuyenzo village in Kalungu District were the first beneficiaries of the small scale micro irrigation system in the greater Masaka.

Agriculture Minister – Vincent Ssempijja and Dr. Antonio Querido – the FAO Country Representative in Uganda, jointly launched the solar powered irrigation systems, last week.

The area has been prone to water shortage, especially during drought spells, affecting both domestic and commercial agricultural activities.

The system is, according to Dr Querido, part of FAO and government of Uganda’s efforts to build capacities of communities and farmers to cope with climate change and strengthen resilience of rural populations and agricultural production systems through provision of water for irrigation, particularly in districts vulnerable to drought and climate variability.

In Bugomola A, for instance, the Ugx260m solar powered irrigation project will provide water for the four-acre Lwabenge Integrated Group garden.

“Agriculture in the cattle corridor region of Uganda is rain-fed and highly dependent on local weather conditions. This means that farming activities have to be put on hold during the dry season.
“With the new sprinkles system, we are certain that farmers will have access to water for dry season agricultural activities,” said Dr. Querido.

The FAO boss noted further that the system will not only increase agricultural production and returns to small scale farmers, but will also improve living conditions of the rural population.

Minister Ssempijja commended FAO for ‘changing lives of my people,’ adding that the solar irrigation systems in Kalungu will serve as a demonstration of modern agricultural practices to small scale farmers.

The Minister exclusively told PML Daily that historically, the government had been more engaged in promoting large-scale irrigation for commercial farmers due to a limited understanding of the business cases for small-scale irrigation.

He said that access to irrigation will provide farmers with a more reliable income, since one farm can produce several yields a year.

“Many will be ready in three months, which means farmers can gather three or four harvests in a year,” he said.

FAO engineer Mr. Denis Besigye said solar was a great fit with irrigation, because on days when plants need the most water, ‘you get the most water out of the pump.’

The engineer advised farmers’ groups to advantage of the availaable opportunity ofsolar irrigation systems in their areas to change their lives as well as vigirously guarding the facilities against vandalism, noting that each facility cost FAO about Ugx 260m.

Josephine Namagga Muwanga, a member of the beneficiary group in Lwabenge-Bugomola said for tomato cultivation, timely irrigation was vital – cautining that even missing one day could severely affect the crop quality and yield. She said her group had depended on expensive diesel generators for irrigation – a scenario that presented one of the biggest challenges to the farmers.

The solar irrigation systems in Kalungu are some of such other similar projects under construction in 13 other districts in the cattle corridor.

In addition, other schemes such biogas construction are being done in the same area to support local communities.

In reference to Uganda solar water pumping report 2019, the ratio of cultivated area under irrigation to Uganda’s irrigation potential is lower than the Sub Saharan Africa average at only 0.5 per cent, whereas approximately 15 percent of the country’s surface area is covered by fresh water sources.

The land under irrigation in Uganda is almost exclusively under large-scale projects.

However, the national focus is increasingly shifting towards smaller projects, driven by a combination of demographics and rural realities.

Original Source: pmldaily.com

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Kiruhura and Kazo lift ban on milk sale

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Ban on the sale of milk has been lifted for two weeks under strict regulations

Kiruhura, Uganda.  Authorities in Kiruhura and Kazo districts have reversed the earlier ban imposed on the sale of milk. The two districts that are under quarantine following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease had banned the sale of animal products and the movement of livestock.

However, in a meeting held between the dairy farmers and district Foot and Mouth disease task forces of both districts, it was agreed to lift the ban on the sale of milk for two weeks but under strict regulations.

Kiruhura District Resident Commissioner Aminadan Muhindo says they have stopped traders who move from house to house collecting milk on motorcycles, but asked them to set up collection centres where farmers will personally deliver their milk.

Kiruhura LC V chairperson Rev Samuel Katugunda welcomed the partial lifting of the ban. He also asked the residents to respect the regulation.

He says the districts are facing an economic crisis because of the total quarantine.

Kazo District Veterinary Officer Richard Kiyemba says they have agreed with dairy farmers to continue selling the milk. He says they are faced with the challenge of unscrupulous people who smuggle livestock out of the district at night.

The quarantine in these districts has increased the smuggling of livestock and its products which is done during the night. Recently, a trader was arrested carrying animals in a Fuso truck heading to Kampala.

Emmanuel Kyeishe, chairperson Kiruhura district Framers Sustainable Development Association, welcomed the lifting of the ban on the sale of milk but warned that the task force is to blame for the widespread of the disease.

He asked the team to ask for reinforcement to boost their monitoring and implementation of the quarantine.

Original Source: THE INDEPENDENT

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Multi-billion cereal processing plant opens in Soroti

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Pela Agro- Processing Factory in Soroti.

Soroti, Uganda. Soroti City will be home to a multi-billion agro-processing business for cereals, thanks to Pela Commodities Limited, a new industry being established in Arapai industrial area.  

Pela commodities has already started laying its machinery in the area near Soroti Fruit Factory. It is expected to handle 18 types of cereals and be able to sort, clean and dry 36 metric tonnes of cereals per hour, according to Isaiah Langa, one of the directors of Pela Commodities Limited. He adds that the plant will easily process over 600 metric tonnes of cereals in less than 24 hours.

Langa adds that they intend to start with maize, soya beans, millet and sorghum produced by farmers in the areas of eastern and northern Uganda, and that their first priority is to improve the quality of grains in the country and open a market for Ugandan grains in the region and beyond.  The cereals currently provide staple food for more than 50 per cent of the population and incomes for rural households. 

Maize is intensely grown in the eastern Uganda districts of Kapchorwa, Mbale, Kamuli, Jinja, and Iganga, the central districts of Masaka and Mubende as well as the western districts of Masindi, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Kasese, Kabarole, while the production of finger millet is concentrated in Apac, Lira, Gulu, Kitgum, Iganga, Kamuli, Soroti and Tororo districts. 

“…for now, we want to ensure quality in the production of grains. We have acquired a toxin scrubber machine that will wash away aflatoxin in the grains. By July/August, the issue of aflatoxin will be no more in our grains”, he said. This pronouncement comes at the heels of a recent trade war between Uganda and Kenya arising from the quality of Maize on the Ugandan market. 

Kenya, the largest consumer of maize from Uganda stopped the importation of the crop on account that the levels of mycotoxins in the maize were above safety limits.

Amos Wekesa, a co-director of Pela Commodities Limited in Soroti says they made a decision to invest in Soroti because of the availability of land, which was offered to them by the Uganda Investment Authority, favourable weather conditions, availability of cereals and connectivity to South Sudan and Kenya markets. Wekesa added that the company is in the process of engaging farmers on how best to work to enhance production for the factory.

Annet Iyogil, a resident in Arapai welcomes the establishment of an agro-processing factory in the area with the hope that it will improve prices for the cereals. 

“We depend on cereals for survival these days. But the prices of maize and other foodstuffs are very low and unpredictable. If this factory sets a standard rate for cereals, that would really be good for us”, she said. 

The factory, worth five billion shillings is expected to start operations by the end of April. 

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