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Organic farming will bridge gap between rural and urban poor

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Mr Chariton Namuwoza, the chief executive officer of the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda. PHOTO | RAINHER OJON

Organic products mainly exported to the European Union fetch about $51m (Shs186b) only, in spite the large international market for Organic products estimated at over $100b (Shs366 trillion) annually. Prosper Magazine talked to Mr Chariton Namuwoza, the chief executive officer of the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU), on some of the major reforms within this sub sector.

Bring us to speed with the state of the organic sub sector?

Globally, the organic sub-sector continues to grow from strength to strength. According to the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the global value of organic food exceeded the $100 billion mark for the first time in 2018. The US market takes the lead with over 41 per cent, followed by Germany (over 11 per cent) and France (over 9 per cent).

Several markets have posted double-digit growth rates. Though Uganda’s share of the Global Market Pie is still small (about $50 million as of 2018), it is projected to grow in the future, in light of the latest developments in the sub-sector. More interestingly, with 210,352 certified organic farmers (2018), Uganda is only next to India, as the world’s second country with the highest number of certified organic farmers.

Moreover, on the policy front, for the first time in the history of the sub-sector, the Government approved the National Organic Agriculture Policy (NOAP), which was launched in September, 2020.

This demonstrates government’s commitment to support the growth of the sub-sector within a regulated environment. Nogamu makes many inquiries about organic products from buyers, retailers and consumers, locally, regionally and globally.

There is also an upward trend in investments around organic farming and processing, especially of organic coffee, oil crops, herbs and spices (like vanilla), fruits and vegetables, cocoa, to mention but a few. Even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, organic agriculture has so far proven to be very resilient and continues to offer a combination of health, economic, social and environmental benefits to producers and consumers world-wide.

In September 2020, we saw the National Organic Agricultural Policy passed by Cabinet, what does does this mean for the sub-sector?

First, it serves as the first major step towards having a well regulated organic sub-sector, which should guarantee the production of quality organic products, increase in our exports and share of the global organic market.

That notwithstanding, to operationalise it, we need to enact an organic bill/regulation/law and this is the next step, which will trigger proper implementation of the policy. A well regulated sector, coupled with growing global organic market, Uganda will easily attract more investment in the sub-sector, which will trigger increased income and employment opportunities to both the urban and rural population.

What are the views of most farmers engaged in organic farming, in as far as the organic policy is  concerned?

Farmers need improved organic farming technologies which ensure high production and productivity. They are concerned about the availability of genuine certified organic inputs, such as pesticides/insecticides and fertilisers. In addition, since they are aware that the organic market demands certified products which should be well-packaged and labeled, they want the certification costs reduced and more advice on post-harvest handling and access to markets.

They need support towards an appropriate marketing infrastructure that guarantees organic integrity.

Now that this policy is in place, what other legal frameworks are needed to enable efficient operations of the organic sub sector?

We need to enact an Organic Bill and regulations to operationalise the policy. The Ministry of Agriculture has already embarked on this process. With the on-going dissemination meetings across all regions of Uganda, the Agriculture Ministry working closely with NOGAMU, ACSA and PELUM Uganda, is now collecting views from key stakeholders, which will inform the development of the Regulatory Impact Assessment and subsequently, the Organic Bill.

What major interventions will drive growth within the organic space?

Nogamu is working closely with the government (through MAAIF) and development partners to promote production, processing and trading of organic products. For instance, in 2020, Nogamu signed a contract with the African Organic Network (AfrONet) and the French Development Agency (AFD) to implement a 3.5 year project to promote institutional innovations in organic agriculture in Africa and Uganda.

The focus is primarily on three areas: innovative policies, innovative markets and innovations to guarantee organic quality through the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS). Over the project period, we shall target more than100,000 actors and we are already moving in this direction.

Where do we see the organic sub sector in the next 10 years?

The next 10 years will be exciting for Uganda’s organic industry. I envision a well regulated sub-sector, with more participation from government, the private sector and development partners.

We shall see a lot of innovations and increased production which will translate into increased value of our organic exports. Organic agriculture will be a sure avenue for both the rural and urban poor to escape the trap of poverty.

Challenges of organic farmers

– Low production to meet the huge market demand

– Inadequate organic agriculture extension services

– Limited investment in manufacturing of organic inputs

– Limited capacity to meet certification costs and market standards

– Lack of enforceable regulations

 

Original Post: Daily Monitor

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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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