By Peter Abaanabasazi
Researchers from Makerere University have urged rice farmers in Bunyoro to adapt to new agriculture technologies and engage in rice production as a business.
Dr Patrick Musinguzi, the principal investigator for Makerere University, said there is low rice production in Bunyoro because several farmers are engaging in rice growing but not as a business, yet rice has a market within and outside the country.
He said many farmers are abandoning rice growing for sugarcane growing because they are not benefiting from the crop, urging that if farmers adopt modern methods, they will be able to benefit from rice growing more than sugarcane.
Musinguzi advised rice farmers to partner with private partners such as banks, seed companies and insurance companies which would support them with financial credits, harvesting materials, and fertilisers to increase the production of rice.
He was speaking during the evaluation exercise for the farmers benefiting from the project dubbed Enhancement of Rice Productivity through Adaptation of Climate-Smart Agricultural Options and Market Responsive Strategies in Uganda on Friday in Kiziranfumbi sub-county, Kikuube district.
The three-year project which started last year, is focusing on promoting the growing of upland rice (NAMCHE5) which is highly nutritious and resistant to climate change. The project was implemented by Makerere University in partnership with the Kikuube district local government, with funding from Africa Plant Nutrition Institute.
Musinguzi challenged the farmers to use the demo farms established in the area to be able to adapt to new technologies and to be able to thrive in the farming business under the continued effects of climate change and exhausted soils.
He noted that under this project, they are engaging the private sector to get interested in supporting rice farmers in the region to be able to increase production.
“With good agronomic management practices, with good fertilisation practices, with good smart climate agricultural method a farmer can double yields, research shows that a farmer can get 16 bags of rice from one acre of land. As I have said, the problem with rice in this area has been mainly what we call poor rice nutrition because of moisture stress and nutrient stress,” he said.
Innocent Maniragaba, one of the project beneficiaries from Kisambo village in Kizaranfumbi sub-county, commended Makerere University for the project which he said is responsible for several farmers adopting new framing technology which has helped them benefit from rice growing more than before.
He noted that the only challenge they are remaining with is prolonged drought and called on the government to support farmers with irrigation technologies and subsidising the prices of fertiliser because such technologies are expensive and many farmers cannot afford them
Opio Vincent, the Hoima district vice chairperson commended Makerere University for promoting rice growing saying that the region which he said is likely to face food insecurity because people with land are running to sugarcane and tea growing.
He, however, challenged farmers to embrace government programs such as the Parish Development Model, cluster development projects and Emyooga to get financial support to invest in modern methods of farming.
Peter Bisoborwa, the deputy resident district commissioner Kikuube, commended Makerere for the intervention and challenged the farmers to embrace the usage of organic manure if artificial fertiliser is expensive to ensure sustainable farming.
He noted there are some fears that herbicides and fertilisers are not good for the soils, urging that the usage of organic manure is efficient and has no effect on the soils.