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Experts Tip Farmers Ahead of New Planting Season :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Experts Tip Farmers Ahead of New Planting Season

Apollo Segawa, an agriculture expert who doubles as Executive Director of a Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited (CURAD) - a public-private partnership initiative promoted by Makerere University, has observed that the farmers should be keen on the quality of seeds they will plant adding that poor quality or fake seeds will lead to low harvests hence produce that will not compete in market.
Maize plantation in Uganda

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Experts have advised the farmers to prepare for early planting during March and early April when the rainy season sets in. 

Early planting is said to be important because crops can overcome pests and crop diseases. It is also recommended because it leads to better harvest when the farmers practice proper crop management. 

A forecast by Uganda Meteorological Authority, a body mandated to forecast weather indicates that the onset of the rainy season is due mid-March and constant rains are expected to continue through April and May.

Apollo Segawa, an agriculture expert who doubles as Executive Director of a Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited (CURAD) - a public-private partnership initiative promoted by Makerere University, has observed that the farmers should be keen on the quality of seeds they will plant adding that poor quality or fake seeds will lead to low harvests hence produce that will not compete in the market.

Segawa advises the farmers to obtain improved quality seeds from approved seed distributors across the country even in rural areas.

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He also called on the government to quickly deal with the problem of substandard seeds by carrying out quality checks now as seed dealers and distributors are getting rampant in the open market. 

Humphrey Mataasa, the Managing Director of Agri Point Initiatives Limited that provides technical and advisory support to farmers in Uganda advised that farmers should equally plant traditional food security crops when the season begins. He cited crops such as sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, cassava, maize and beans as some of the crops farmers should plant early to ensure that there is food security in the country.

Mataasa also encouraged the growing of high-value crops like tomatoes, carrots, onions and vegetables that take short time to mature but also help the farmers to earn income and boost their diet.

He said, for now, farmers should clear their farms and prepare them for cultivation and then plant crops when it rains in late March. He added that some seeds locally kept by the farmers after the previous harvest, may not be very productive because of erratic climatic conditions that make the seeds less productive.

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Often some farmers especially in Karamoja have cried foul play from seed distribution organizations over the poor quality seeds. For example, last season, 2020, hundreds of farmers supported by Mercy Corps on growing of food security crops notably sorghum cried foul play when they registered total crop failure from a sorghum species distributed to them, by a sub-contractor in a move to boost food security. This left hundreds of farmers especially in Kotido food insecure.

The Kotido Agriculture Officer Tonny Mark Ogwang is urging farmers to read the labels on the seed packages to know if they are productive or expired. He also encouraged the farmers to consult the extension workers in their respective sub-counties if available.

Michael Chemusui, a commercial maize grower in Amudat district says they are currently clearing farms ahead of the planting season. He says their challenge has often been how to access quality seeds. He says sometimes they prefer the seeds kept from the previous harvest, because of rampant fake seed distributors. 

John Bosco Akore of Kotido district wants seed distributors to first demonstrate the germination rate of their seed varieties before selling to farmers. He observed that most farmers often register loses when they unknowingly buy fake seeds from the open market. He has also called for strict regulation of seed suppliers as he seasons sets in.

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