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Small scale farmers in Uganda, Kenya form online agricultural marketing platform to boost sales

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In order to widen their market bases and also ease selling of their products especially in such a time of Covid-19, small scale farmers’ organisations from Uganda and Kenya have formed an online Agricultural marketing platform dubbed Kilimo Mart application.

Since the movement of people is prohibited in both countries yet trade and farming have to continue, the app is to support farmers from both countries in accessing information related to agricultural produces on demand in the two countries.

Currently, farmers from the two countries have been using Whats-App groups and Facebook groups but there has not been any special platform for them yet they needed it especially in such a time where online business is the way to go.

While speaking during the app launch on Thursday, the chairperson of the Agriculture, Natural resources and Tourism Committee in the East African Legislative Assembly Mathias Kasamba welcomed the new innovation by the farmers and said it  is a big milestone towards the development of the agriculture as a sector in the entire region.

“The East African Community offers bigger market to the agricultural produces from the member states but the majority of the farmers have not exploited the opportunities due to the lack of information related to the availability of the markets from for their produce, this has exposed many farmers to be cheated by the middlemen but with this online platform will solve such challenges,” said Kasamba.

He added that the integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the agriculture sector by the East African member states plays a big role since it can attract special interest groups such as the youth to participate in the Agricultural sector because most of them are more knowledgeable with the ICT skills.

Nancy Mugimba the National Coordinator of Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda said that the platform will also help small scale farmers to access markets for their produces especially organic Agricultural produces.

“The Kilimo Mart platform will offer market links for organic products between small scale farmers and consumers. It’s also one way of empowering small-scale farmers in Kenya and Uganda (and the EAC region) to explore and utilise the current agriculture trade prospects in the region. On the App farmers will access information like market information, farming practices and techniques, weather information, laws and policies including East African Community (EAC) updates,” she said.

However, the chairperson of Kenya small scale farmer Alphayo Kuruna expressed his dissatisfaction on how both governments of the East African Member states are paying less attention to small scale farmers yet their contributions to their economies is exceptional.

“Smallholder farmers are the majority contributors of labour in the Agricultural sector however on many occasions they have not been effectively supported especially when it comes to access to Regional, the International market’s this has kept them into poverty,” he said.

Hakim Baliraine the ESAFF Uganda chairperson also backed his colleague from Kenya and added that African member states should develop policies that can support the smallholder farmers in the region to compete with their counterparts in other regions of the World.

Source: Watchdog

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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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