By Aloysious Kasoma
The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), announced that it will start construction of a test cultivation complex for vegetable seed development for farmers’ income growth and to promote scientific farming in Uganda.
The project, named “Uganda Key Vegetable Crop Seed Value Chain Project,” is aimed at constructing Uganda’s first native vegetable seed development and testing cultivation complex and greenhouse.
Actual testing and cultivation of the vegetable seeds will begin on June 21, categorised by the entire process of “seed production-seed supply-sowing-cultivation-harvest-selling”, which can be achieved through the development of new seeds.
“Farmers sell half (49.3 %) of their crops personally and hand the rest over to local stores. Of these, only about 2.0% sold them properly through collection centres or cooperatives.
About 70.7% of the farmers that KOICA spoke to say they supplied seed varieties and prices to middlemen without properly negotiating with them. However, there is an improvement in productivity by more than 30%, with the developing of indigenous seeds and certification.
According to KOICA, farmers have experience using certified seeds but are having difficulty buying and using certified seeds on time. They know certified seeds are good, but it is expensive and difficult to get them.
Thus, most farmers repeatedly cultivate and sell seeds without knowing the type or variety they give or receive from middlemen.
KOICA has started the Uganda Key Vegetable Crop Seed Value Chain Project to develop Ugandan native seeds of five types of vegetable crops incusing; tomatoes, onions, cabbage, pepper, and nakati, through greenhouses, water tanks, government wells, and test-redistribution, which will be installed to each cultivation complex.
“The goal is to secure genetic resources of five types of vegetables currently spread in Uganda, analyse and breed them to develop more than one native Ugandan seed for each vegetable,” KOICA says.
This means that native seeds of major vegetable crops in Uganda will be developed for the first time, and systematic seed distribution and management will be possible in the future.
This also means that the country will experience independence from foreign seeds. In addition, the developed new seeds will be certified internationally through the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA).
“Through this process, Uganda’s agricultural products are likely to get to the international market and can function as a device to protect the genetic information of Uganda’s vegetable seeds.
In addition, the capabilities of seed-related institutions and workers, such as Uganda’s National Seed Inspection Centre (NSL), will be strengthened to a global level,” KOICA says.