Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Agriculture Advisory Services – NAADS has scaled down seeds supply to farmers to concentrate on developing industrial areas for production of strategic commodities.
The strategic commodities include Cocoa, Citrus, Mangoes, Cotton, Tea, Apple and Cashew Nuts. The agency says it would like to support farmers plant more than 372 acres of the crops across the various ecological zones in the country.
Dr Samuel Mugasi, the NAADS Executive Director says under the new strategic direction, 280 New Holland tractors will be distributed for mechanizing agriculture next month.
Smallholder farmers will be supplied with 800,000 hand hoes for growing food at peasantry level. Dr Mugasi says the choice of the new direction has been informed by a drastic budget cut for 2019. He says the budget can only support 522 households and 97 farmer groups, with 28 value addition equipment for the agency to concentrate on setting up two agro-industrial parks in Kabarole and Kasese districts.
The agency’s 2019 financial budget reduced to shillings 145.893 billion from 249.977 billion in 2018/19, representing a reduction of 104.084 billion shillings or (41.7%).
Dr Mugasi says this will substantially affect their operations and support to farmers. He says the agency will, therefore, focus on purchase of specialized agro machinery required for developing agricultural value chains for agro industrialization.
Dr Mugasi says 22 solar water pumping systems, 4 fruit processing equipment for Mango, Citrus and Pineapples will be bought and distributed to farmer groups in West Nile and Teso sub-regions at 37.15 Billion shillings.
He says another 66.4 Billion shillings will be spent on procurement and distributions of farm inputs such as seeds, seedlings and vegetative planting materials to farmers. The others are livestock and stocking materials for boosting food security and household incomes of farming households across the country.
Dr Christopher Bukenya, the Head of Agribusiness and Technical services says the agency will spend 9.9 Billion shillings on provision of food security crops sorghum, beans and Maize seeds to farmers in Karamoja sub-region amongst others.
Dr Prossy Mutumba, the NAADS Crop Development Specialist says they were only able to procure and distribute 4.9 Million kilograms of improved maize seeds to 120 districts across all zones for establishing 487,380 acres for over 974,760 households.
“We also procured and distributed 1.4 Million kilograms of improved bean seeds to 125 districts across all zones used to establish 58,178 acres for 116,356 households” she stated.
According to Dr Mutumba, NAADS also supplied 151,300 Kilograms of sorghum seeds to 12 District Local Governments in Karamoja and Eastern Uganda for establishing 37,825 acres for over 37,825 households”.