Thirty young farmers from Masaka, Rakai, Lwengo and Bukomansimbi districts participated in a discussion organised by Kitovu Mobile, an anti-AIDS NGO, in Masaka Town last week and revealed some of the main challenges they face. The farmers, who included women, were all aged below 30 years and all had received training in farming skills from Kitovu Mobile Farm School years ago, before going to set up their own farms.
The discussion was also attended by Masaka District Agriculture Department officials. They included Dr Lawrence Mayega, head of Production Department, and Joseph Katumba an agriculture officer.
Joshua Sseremba, a coffee farmer from Ttagga Village, Kingo Sub-county in Lwengo District, complained of poor quality seed sold to the farmers as one of the hindrances to successful farming.
“It takes a long time for the coffee farmer to realise that he or she planted the wrong seed. Yet, it takes hard work and money to nurture a coffee tree only to realise after about three years that the coffee trees are not high yielding and are of poor quality.”
His concern was also raised by five other farmers before Dr Mayega advised them to make sure that they get their seed material from the nursery operators certified by Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).
Joshua Kisekka from Bulando Village, Buwunga Sub-county, complained that most of the shops dealing in agro-chemicals in Masaka Town cannot give the right dosage instructions to the buyers of their products and so farmers keep making losses.
Dr Mayega told the farmers that there was laxity on the part of the law enforcement officers because all shops, which deal in agro-input s and chemicals, are supposed to be manned by well qualified, professional people.
Ismail Kitone, from Bukomansimbi, emphasised the need for networking among farmers especially with regard to obtaining the best selling prices for their products. He also advised fellow farmers to grow alternative crops to turn to in case one of their main farming crops fails to attract a good market.
The farmers also discussed several crop diseases and climate change issues about which the experts provided advice and guidance.
Charles Matovu, the director, Kitovu Mobile, said that the discussion was “just a beginning” and that in the coming years, the NGO is set to organise bigger discussions by inviting more participants.
By Michael J Ssali