By Prossy Nandudu
The agriculture ministry, through the Multi-sectoral Food Security and Nutrition Project, is teaching expo-goers how to add value to bio-fortified food crops like iron-rich beans and zinc, orange fleshed sweet potatoes among others to address the nutrition challenges in the country.
The initiative, according to the ministry, is to increase production and consumption of micro nutrient rich foods and utilisation of community-based nutrition services for small holder farmers. Show-gowers will learn how to grow some of the selected products, but also add value to them.
The ministry is using the Harvest Money Expo to teach about the best processing and farming practices. Farmers are learning how to process beans, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in addition to blending them with other food items to increase the nutritional value of food items, explained Moses Kajangu from the Project.
They will also be trained on best farming methods. Under livestock, farmers coming to the expo are learning the importance of artificial insemination and how to administer it.
For those interested in accessing agriculture machinery, the ministry through the department of Agriculture Mechanisation and Engineering, is showcasing tractors including those that can be accessed by small holder farmers, with between one to three acres of land.
Festo Obonyo from the mechanisation unit explained that the technologies being exhibited will support farmers increase production. For example, the walking tractors, that consume three litres of diesel per acre will reduce the time spent using ox-ploughs, which if hired could take up to three days to clear a one-acre piece of land.
In terms of maintenance Obonyo added that although the tractors are manufactured from Thailand, they are assembled in Namanve, which makes it easy to access spare parts when need arises. For large-scale, farmers, the four wheeled tractor is being recommended and that these are stationed at the national and regional mechanisation centres across the country.
To hire this particular tractor, a farmer or farmer group has to part with sh40,000 per acre, while water bourses that support irrigation are hired at sh100,000 per day and for the excavators, one has to part with sh60,000 per hour, explained Obonyo.
He, however, clarified that this is accessed at the regional and national levels. “Fuel costs are met by the farmer,” he added.
Previously, foundation seed which is the first seed that seed companies access from breeders at research station, multiply and is the certified by the National Seed Certification services, was accessed by only farmers. At the expo individual farmers will also access this seed, also known as first generation seed to maximise their yields.
The seed that is being exhibited by NARO holdings, a commercial arm of the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) include beans, soybeans, rice, cassava cuttings, sunflower, sesame, ground nuts and maize.
They will also learn about that are being offered in the National Animal Genetics Resource Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC & DB) for those interested in livestock.
Other technologies that will be showcased to farmers include silk farming, bee-keeping, urban farming, production of indigenous vegetables, rabbit keeping, piggery, fish farming, goat farming and dairy value addition, among others.
Photo moments from the agriculture ministry section at the ongoing Harvest Money Expo. Phots by Eddie Ssejjoba