By Joshua Kato
The judgement process for the 2022 Best Farmers Competition has ended and the awards ceremony for the winners has been set for Friday.
The awards chief judge, Victoria Ssekitoleko, said it has been a challenging task to pick the winner, especially because all competitors were good.
“However, after an exercise that took us almost one month, we have finally come up with the winners,” she announced on Saturday morning.
It is these 10 farmers who will be announced on Friday.
The invite only function will take place at Vision Group offices in Industrial Area, Kampala.
The ‘best of the best’ farmers’ competition was launched at Rebecca Azza Ssenkubuge’s Cuzfresh farm in Garuga-Entebbe, Wakiso district in June this year.
Ssenkubuge is among the 2019 best farmers.
The competition is organised by Vision Group and sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy in Uganda, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, dfcu Bank and Koudijs Nutrition BV.
For the last seven years, 85 winners have been crowned and 59 have toured the Netherlands to learn and exchange experiences with the Dutch farmers.
The competitors are previous winners between 2014 and 2018.
The 10 selected winners will get cash prizes with the top farmer taking sh50m, the second best will take sh30m, and the third will win sh20m.
The remaining seven farmers will share sh50m.
However, this time round, all the winners will not travel to the Netherlands as has been the practice because all of them have won before and visited Dutch farms.
The competition has been running for the last seven years. Although there was no competition in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agriculture sector has continued to thrive, helping the country’s economy to survive with little shock.
Besides Ssekitoleko, the other judges are Josephat Byaruhanga, Augustine Mwendya, Andrew Anyagan and Prof. Ogenga Latigo.
Latigo has returned as one of the judges, replacing Dr Emma Naluyima who is now in the competition.
Latigo, a veteran politician, is also a farmer.
He was one of the judges in 2014 and 2015, the first two years of the competition, before he left to rejoin Parliament in 2016 as the Agago North representative.
He did not return to Parliament in the 2021 elections.
Latigo brings back to the judges panel many years of experience in the agriculture sector. The other new judge, Anyagan, is from dfcu Bank.
Anyagan worked as an agribusiness specialist and agriculture loans officer at Centenary Bank for 11 years, before joining dfcu Bank.
“I am privileged to be a judge of the most popular farmers’ competition in the country,” Anyagan said.
Byaruhanga, the agriculture policy officer at the Embassy of Netherlands, is also a veteran national and community agriculturalist, while Mwendya is a veteran farmers’ leader and agriculturist.
“We decided to have the previous winners compete among themselves to review the progress of the competition so far and the farmers’ impact on society and the challenges they have faced,” Byaruhanga said.
According to the judges’ report, the competition has had a positive impact to the agriculture sector, including adoption of better technologies, improved access to genuine farm inputs, easy knowledge transfer and access to markets locally and abroad.
The challenges they have faced include lack of extension workers, poor infrastructure and low access to agricultural finance.