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How tractors have boosted yields



Mr Alex Mbagaya, a tractor operator in Mbarara District, boasts of ploughing more than 10 acres of land in a day, a job 10 people cannot do in more than two weeks.

While he credits the tractor for saving time, Mr Peterson Kakuru, the chairperson of Rwanyamahembe Sub-county in Mbarara, spends less on labour.

“It is cheaper because you spend more using labourers to plough an acre with hand hoes.
Besides, the tractor penetrates deeper into the soil than a hand hoe and this improves yields,” Mr Kakuru says.

The two are among thousands of people throughout the country that have benefitted from using tractors distributed by government between January and March in order to promote agricultural mechanisation and commercial farming.

The Ministry of Agriculture under the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) supplied three tractors to 114 districts in fulfilment of a 2011 presidential pledge of providing each sub-county with a tractor.
Months later, farmers have realised increased production.

“Some farmers in Kwania are cultivating more than 100 acres of land in a season,”Mr George Ojok Ocen, the Kwania District production coordinator, says. Consumption has also increased on a family scale.
“Many people growing food for home use or selling have embraced use of the tractor. This has increased food as well as income,” Mr Stephen Katanaka, a member of Rubaya Dairy Farmers Group in Rubaya Sub-county, Mbarara, says.

Bumper harvest
In Tororo, the district has registered a bumper harvest mainly in the second season due to the uniform preparation of land.

“We are even seeing prices for hiring the equipment reduce because initially, we had only three tractors serving the district and these would make farmers wait, and sometimes miss out on the season and others end up making losses,” Mr Joseph Okoth, the district production engineer, says.

He adds that the tractors have reduced the pressure on private service providers.

“We see it as leverage for the farmers because some of them (private service providers) used to overcharge. Besides, some of them used to delay cultivation because they preferred upfront payment for hire fees which were more than Shs150,000 but now, the government tractors charge between Shs80,000 and Shs90,000 basing on the work they do,” Mr Okoth says.

In Rakai, Mr Meddy Kanyike, the district agricultural officer, says more than 30 Kenyan trucks move around the area per week to buy cereal crops.

Dr Emmanuel Kawooya, the Sembabule District production officer, says since the acquisition of the tractors, production has almost tripled, especially for maize and coffee since farming groups are growing on a large scale.
He also says farmers started growing pastures which act as animal feeds during the dry spells.
In Nwoya District, many farmers have now opened up their land to take advantage of the tractors.
“There has been increase in acreage opening with each farmer opening more than10 acres per planting season compared to the time they didn’t have tractors,” Mr Alfred Kilama, the district agricultural officer, says.

The situation is similar in Amuru, Gulu, Pader, Agago, Kitgum and Lamwo districts.
However, some areas have few tractors yet their demand is high. For example, in some northern, eastern and western regions, farmers have resorted to using ox-ploughs because they cannot get tractors in time.

Although Apac received two tractors from Naads last year, Mr Charles Ogang, the chairperson of Kungu Cereal Farmers’ Cooperative, says the demand for tractor is always overwhelming.

“Farming is seasonal in Lango Sub-region and sometimes many people are waiting for the same tractor,” he says.

The tractor serves Akokoro and Ibuje sub-counties and sometimes Chegere.
“During the first season, I wanted to open a large chunk of land and I booked a tractor but after waiting for sometime, I resorted to ox-ploughing to catch up with the planting season,” Mr Denis Nengo, a farmer in Akokoro Sub-county, says.

Mr Christopher Okwang, the chairman of Alito Joint Christian Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Kole District, appealed to government to provide more tractors.

“Government should have at least procured 10 tractors per district if it was serious about promoting large-scale commercial farming to increase household income,” Mr Okwang says.

In West Nile Sub-region, farmers want government to provide more and better tractors because they often break down.

“It would be better if the government reduces the rate of hiring these tractors if farmers are to embrace mechanisation. Many of our farmers cannot afford to hire a tractor at Shs90,000 or Shs100,000 per acre because if they are using hoes, it costs about Shs50,000 which is cheaper,” Mr Nason Adiga, a farmer in Owaffa Sub-county in Terego District, says.

Naads officials told farmers in Arua and Maracha districts to buy other complements such as trailers, harrows and planters, among others, after one year to improve the production.

In Yumbe, the district production coordinator, Mr Rashid Kawawa, concurs that three tractors are inadequate.

Mr Ismail Tibo, a commercial farmer at Alinga Village in Kuru Sub-county, says supplying a tractor to each commercial farmer could be the best option to minimise some costs.

Some beneficiaries claim the tractors have developed mechanical conditions despite the one-year guarantee by the supplier.

Poor terrain
However, some technical staff, who preferred anonymity, say government did not consider the topography of some districts, adding that the soils were not tested to match with the tractor strengths.

“Soil testing and terrain are key factors for smooth operation of any earth moving machine, so I don’t think this was done prior to supply of these tractors. That is why some tractors have issues in different areas,” an engineer says.

“We have experienced a lot of breakdowns, especially with parts of the lower left arm, the hub bolts and stabilisers. However, we have bought some of these parts after failing to get them from ENGSOL (Engineering Solutions (U) Ltd),” Bufunjo Concerned Citizens for Development, a community based organisation in Bufunjo, Kifuka Town council, in Kyenjojo state in their Tractor general progressive performance report released on August 6.

For instance, Kabale District received tractors in 2000 but the project failed due to the hilly terrain.

“Due to the rugged terrain, they (tractors) did not perform to the expectations of the farmers,” Mr Beda Mwebesa, the district production and marketing officer, says.

Mr Robert Erisat Okitoi, the Amuria District chairman, says the nature of the machinery is weak, adding that farmers cannot afford to hire tractors since prices are high.

“For each acre, one has to use between Shs120,000 and Shs150,000 yet for animal traction, it is Shs80,000,” Mr Okitoi says.

He adds that about three groups received tractors but they are struggling to maintain them.

Mr Okitoi advised government to purchase strong and durable tractors preferably from Japan, Germany and the UK rather than the brand (TAFE 45 DIModel) they gave to farmers.
Mr Madrine Naziwa, an engineer in the Agriculture ministry, says the tractors were procured through ENGSOL and Cooper Motor Corporation (U) Ltd.

Ms Grace Kazigati, an official at the Naads secretariat, says the average price is Shs62.5m for the 40Hp tractor and Shs77.5m for the 60Hp ones.

However, she says the prices offered in bids do not always reflect market rates.

The tractors were distributed to successful farmers who would use them and hire them to others at a fee of Shs80,000 as and when the need arose.

Each beneficiary group received a tractor, TAFE 45 DI Model together with one disc plough and one off set disc harrow.

The tractors supplemented the earlier batch comprising 280 tractors that the government procured in March last year.

Original Post: Daily Monitor

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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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