Despite government efforts to encourage farmers to adopt improved seed varieties, a new report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics has shown that majority of the farmers prefer indigenous seeds to improved or hybrid seeds.
While presenting the 2019 Annual Agricultural Survey Report at Statistics House in Kampala recently, Diana Nabukalu, a crop statistician at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, noted that 94% of the people who responded to the survey indicated their preference to planting indigenous seeds instead of the highbred seeds.
“In our research across the country, we found out that majority of the people prefer planning traditional seeds to hybreed seeds. However, we did not ask to know the reasons behind this despite government call,” she said.
The research focused of crops such as cassava, maize, beans, soya beans, simsim, rice, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, coffee, bananas, millet and sorghum.
Nabukalu added that they only did quantitative research that focuses on what is seen on the ground and not qualitative research that goes into the details the reason they were not able to determine why people prefer indigenous varieties.
This comes at the time the Government is promoting the adoption of improved varieties as a means to improve food security in the country through the introduction of the National Seed Policy.
The National Seed Policy of 2018 was introduced to realise the transition from subsistence to a market-oriented production and guarantee food and nutrition security for the population by ensuring improved access to affordable high-quality seed and other agricultural inputs.
According to the policy, Uganda needs a competitive, vibrant and pluralistic seed sub-sector that will enhance agricultural productivity of food and cash crops to support the growing population and extend her economic base.
It aims at supporting the public and private sector to develop and promote new commercial, food and nutrition security crop varieties with an enabling environment for seed companies to produce and supply sufficient quantities of high quality certified seed.
Despite the denial to embrace improved seed varieties, the report indicated a decline in production of the major food crops in the country including; cassava, maize, coffee, millet, rice, groundnuts, soya beans, beans, simsim, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes.
The report showed that production of maize and beans dropped by 20% and 40% respectively in the last one year, rice dropped by 16%, while millet and sorghum dropped by 49% and 64% respectively.
According to the report, production of sweet potatoes fell to 2.8 million metric tonnes from 3.3 metric tonnes in 2018. Cassava declined by 39% from 8.7 million tonnes in 2018 to 7.5 million tonnes in 2019. The drop was also registered in coffee with robusta coffee falling from 8.7 million metric tonnes to 7.7 metric tonnes.
The increase was registered in banana and soya bean production, where banana production grew by 47% increasing by about 5 million metric tonnes growing to 17.1 million metric tonnes in 2019 from 12.3 metric tonnes.