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Agriculture ministry tasks researchers to produce new seeds

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Government has tasked the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) and the NaGRIC & DB to produce new seeds and avail them on the market.

Currently, seed companies access foundation seed from NARO, which is then multiplied and sold to the market, however, the quantities are usually not enough and sometimes quality is compromised along the way.

The task was delivered by the Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze, during celebrations to mark World Food Day at Namulonge.

The move will ensure that there is both quality and quantities of seed that are key in sustaining food production in the country, according to Tumwebaze.

He also called on scientists not to stop developing seed varieties, but to further ensure that farmers and other targeted beneficiaries access them.

Existing crop varieties on the market

According to Dr Yona Baguma, from NARO, in the last 10 years, NARO developed over 100 high-yielding crop varieties that are commercially produced in the country.

They include 32 varieties of maize, 24 varieties of beans, nine varieties of rice, four varieties of sorghum and nine varieties of cassava.

Others include eight varieties of sweet potatoes, five varieties of mangos, three varieties of citrus, and 10 varieties of coffee among others.

Baguma added that the uptake and production of these stress-tolerant and high-yielding varieties have led to an increase in productivity and production in the country.

For example, rice productivity has increased from the previous national average yield of 1 ton per hectare to 2.4 tons per hectare and production from 110,000 metric tons of milled rice in 2008 to 390,000 metric tons per annum in 2020.

Maize productivity increased from 2.5MT to 3.7MT per hectare and production from 2.8 million MT in 2014 to 5 million MT in 2020.

Bean productivity increased from 0.7MT/ha in 2012 to 1.3MT/ha in 2019 and production from 444,000MT in 2006 to over 1,000,000MT in 2020, respectively.

Coffee productivity partly attributed to the wilt disease-resistant varieties which is at 3.9tons/ha compared to the disease-susceptible varieties that yielded on average of 1.5 tons/ha.

Maize export increased from 278,693MT ($84.99m) in 2016 to750,000MT ($95.48m) in 2019 (MAAIF,2019); and bean exports increased to USD80m in 2018, all contributing to import substitution and exports.

This Year’s Celebrations were marked under the theme “Leave No One Behind. Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life.

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