BY CHRISTOPHER AHIMBISIBWE
There is no doubt that there is general scarcity of seeds across the country. Last year, farmers spent many hours lining up at offices of leading seeds producers in a bid to get quality seeds.
This is why Ugandan, farmers are allowed by law to use what is called the Quality Declared Seeds (QDS), which are produced by farmers themselves. Under this law, farmers can exchange and sell seeds. They also have certified hybrid seeds, giving farmers a variety of choices.
One of the producers of these seeds is Joy Mugisha, a best farmer from 2016. She sells about 2 tonnes of various seeds annually, some of which she sources from the cooperative when demand is high.
“We need to embrace value addition to seeds as one way of enhancing seed security if farmers are to benefit from sustainable agriculture,” said Dr. Ceiline Telmote, the African Regional team leader, food environment and consumer behavior from Bioversity International Kenya said.
Telmote was visiting Joy Mugisha’s farm. She came with other members from Kenya to visit farmers in western Uganda, who have achieved value addition especially on maize and millet grains. Mugisha is one of the Vision Group best farmers from 2016. She specializes in producing mainly bean seeds.
Dr. Telmote says that their effort is aimed at moving farmers from selling their crops to middlemen who give farmers money before they harvest, hence making them lose a lot. “We are trying to support groups of farmers with the agenda of forming seed banks that will protect and preserve the seeds which can be valued in future”.
Joy Mugisha, hailed Vision Group for awarding a trip to the Netherlands in 2017 which she says has improved her farming from traditional to modern farming. She says that the innovative methods she has on her farm is all about doing research all the time. She plants beans in neat rows, each block with a different variety. After harvesting the produce, she carefully selects any ‘foreign’ substance like soil before drying.
She does not use any chemicals to preserve her seeds. She burns cow dung, grinds it into dust and mixes with ash to make a traditional preservative that protects the seeds from pests for up to two years.
To ensure there is no cross-pollination, she says she plants various varieties of crops at different times so that they do not flower at the same time.
“I normally monitor the crops closely and uproot any that are different from the others,” she says, explaining the knowledge she has on traditional seed production. “At flowering stage, I also uproot any crops whose flowers are different from the rest.”
She made a local soil tester which she uses first to determine whether the soil is suitable for millet, beans and coffee by planting a few seeds in that soil for monitoring.
“I want to thank Vision Group for awarding me a trip to the Netherlands because the journey has seen my farm improve from time to time because I can now manage risks and conserve seeds,” said Joy Mugisha.