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Grape Farmers Decry Lack Of Agronomist

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Fred Turyakira

Grape farmers in Mbarara who subscribe to Mbarara City Grape Farmers’ Co-operative Society have decried the absence of an agronomist to give farmers advisory services on proper methods of farming and, pests and disease control management of the fruit.

While addressing members in Mbarara recently, the society’s chairperson, Alex Asiimwe, said their plan to have all the hills of Ibaare and Nyamatojo in Nyakayojo, among other places, planted with grapes has been derailed.

He appealed to the Government to recruit agronomists specialised in grape growing. Asiimwe said grapes are a foreign fruit, though being grown in Uganda.

Farmers have been relying on advice from their colleagues on the drugs to use for pest and disease control.

“The Government should to train and recruit a specialist in grape farming if the growing of the fruit is to be successful,” he said.

Asiimwe said one of the common diseases affecting the fruit is blight, especially during the rainy season.

He added that fungal disease normally attacks when the fruits are young and the garden can easily be destroyed in one week.

Grape farmers

Farmers in Ibaare have been involved in grape farming for the past 20 years. The co-operative produces over 200 tonnes a year which has two seasons.

However, they face the challenge of prices falling drastically, especially so when the farmers happen to harvest the crop at the same time.

Asiimwe explained that they joined a co-operative to structure production so that they avoid harvesting at the same time.

The co-operative is also looking at value-addition and want to establish their own winery.

MP hails farmers

Rita Atukwasa, the Mbarara City Woman MP, commended the farmers for coming together, saying the Government wants people who are united in development and can easily expand their enterprises.

“These farmers have done well in grape farming which is not just a new enterprise but a lucrative one,” the legislator said.

We need the attention of the Government to have an agronomist be able to grow grapes. I will follow it up both in Mbarara and government, level,” she said.

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