By Patrick Okino
The Government is to open 18 agricultural mechanisation centres and improve the existing ones to boost production in the country, agriculture state minister Fred Bwino Kyakulaga has said.
Kyakulaga says the Government will deploy heavy agricultural equipment, improve infrastructures in the existing one and recruit staff to manage.
He was speaking on September 21, at the unveiling of the seed laboratory and poultry hatchery at Ngetta Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Lira city.
Kyakulaga said the Government tends to bring agricultural technology nearer to people to spur production and in Lango region, they will improve and equip the Agwata Mechanisation Centre in Dokolo district.
In 2020, the Government launched a regional centre at Acan Owilo village in Agwata sub-county to enhance agricultural production.
The then agriculture state minister, Henry Aggrey Bagiire, launched the centre and it was equipped with assorted heavy earth-moving equipment.
The equipment was 10 bulldozers, 14 hydraulic excavators, three wheel loaders, three motor graders, three vibrating rollers, seven water bowsers, seven dump trucks, two low bed carriers, two hydraulic drilling rigs and three mobile workshop vans.
Individual farmers, groups, communities or institutions, NGOs, and local government were the targeted beneficiaries on condition that they pay for hire rate which is highly subsided at 60%. However, since then the operation has not kicked off.
The resident district commissioner, Barbra Akech welcomed the development to revamp the centre, saying it will help large-scale farmers engaged in commercial production and keep the place vibrant.
She said most of the equipment had remained redundant since it was launched because it didn’t serve its purpose.
“When you visit the centre, you don’t see any signs of activity and sometimes, when I visit the place I don’t see the machines,” Akech said.
“Many times, they tell me, it has been hired and I don’t know if it has been hired forever,” she added.
District information officer Musafiri Suwed said since it was launched he had never seen any farmer coming to hire the equipment or using it.
“Because if it was still there, farmers would be using it, but ever since, I have not seen any,” Suwed said on 25th September.
Tonny Obel, the LC3 chairperson of Agwata town council, said the centre is operating at a low pace because of limited staffing and meagre resources.
He said recently it started picking up by identifying young people and training them in tractor operation and maintenance.
Three days ago district production officer Dr Richard Enyanga acknowledged that the centre has been inactive because of a lack of staff, but very soon they will recruit over 30 staff to man the facility.
However, Kaykulaga said the centre and the 17 others will be a point of appropriate technology, agricultural workshops, training centres for mechanics and operators of the equipment.
“We want it to have heavy agricultural equipment where everyone can access it to cover irrigation capacity at farm level, boreholes drilling, construction of dams, valley tanks, combined harvester and bush clearing machines among others,” he added.
“The good news is that Cabinet has already approved the funding for what I am talking about so it is not wise because the funding has been approved for this financial year,” he added.
He added that the Government will also strengthen the engineering arm of the National Agricultural Research Organization so that whenever they produce any technology for demonstration, people will adopt and embark on producing it massively.
PHOTO CAPTION: Agriculture state minister Fred Bwino Kyakulaga making a speech before commissioning seed laboratory in Ngetta, Lira City. Photo by Patrick Okino