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MAAIF launches National Organic Agriculture Policy

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Ugandan farmers have been urged to embrace organic farming to increase the share of over $80B global market of organic produce.

While launching the long-awaited National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP), at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and fisheries (MAAIF), offices in Entebbe, Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, explained the many opportunities that organic farming presents to Uganda’s economy.

According to the statistics presented by MAAIF in 2016, the global market demand for organic products is over $80B where Uganda is currently earning only $291.2m per year from the exportation of organic products to the international market yet the country has the potential to increase this income.

“Although many Ugandan farmers seem to be practicing organic farming, there is much more needed, to be done, especially with the standards and agronomical practices under organic farming. Farmers also need to understand that for one to qualify to be an organic farmer, they must be certified,” explained Ssempijja.

Prof. Charles Ssekyewa, the African Continental Chairman for the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative who is a trainer and researcher in Organic Agriculture and promoter of Agro-Ecology, says that organic farming is the best farming system to promote, protect and conserve the environment.

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MAAIF launches National Organic Agriculture Policy

By Herbert Musoke

Added 30th September 2020 01:18 PM

“With the way the environment is being destroyed, we need to embrace organic farming because it allows the interaction and healthy living of all elements of the eco-system.”

MAAIF launches National Organic Agriculture Policy

Ugandan farmers have been urged to embrace organic farming to increase the share of over $80B global market of organic produce.

While launching the long-awaited National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP), at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and fisheries (MAAIF), offices in Entebbe, Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, explained the many opportunities that organic farming presents to Uganda’s economy.

According to the statistics presented by MAAIF in 2016, the global market demand for organic products is over $80B where Uganda is currently earning only $291.2m per year from the exportation of organic products to the international market yet the country has the potential to increase this income.

“Although many Ugandan farmers seem to be practicing organic farming, there is much more needed, to be done, especially with the standards and agronomical practices under organic farming. Farmers also need to understand that for one to qualify to be an organic farmer, they must be certified,” explained Ssempijja.

Prof. Charles Ssekyewa, the African Continental Chairman for the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative who is a trainer and researcher in Organic Agriculture and promoter of Agro-Ecology, says that organic farming is the best farming system to promote, protect and conserve the environment.

“With the way the environment is being destroyed, we need to embrace organic farming because it allows the interaction and healthy living of all elements of the eco-system,” he said.

Alex Lwakuba who is the commissioner, crop production department with MAAIF, commended the policy formulation team for the work well done and asked the legislators to quicken the process of enacting laws that will facilitate the implementation of the policy.

“This long-awaited policy that has taken us 16 years is a very fundamental tool in the promotion of organic farming in Uganda. Now we need to teach and tell all the stakeholders of what is expected of them so that everyone is on board. There is much we can get from organic farming because we have the potential,” he says.

Uganda is one of the countries with the highest comparative advantage for organic production in Uganda with the only 262,282Ha of land under organic farming, with 210,352 certified farmers producing 115,062 tons of organic produce.

**New Vision

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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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