Vegetable farmers will no longer import seeds, following the launch of a vegetable seed project by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in partnership with Korea International Cooperative Agency (KOICA).
The project, launched at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), Namulonge, will run up to 2029.
Through the project, Korean researchers will support Ugandan scientists to develop new varieties of vegetable seeds for onions, tomatoes, chili and cabbages.
The director of NaCRRI, Dr Godfrey Asea, said the vegetables were selected due to their importance in the market and nutritional security, but also due to the fact their continued production depends on imported seeds.
And since it will be a demand-driven research approach, it will involve farmers from pilot districts of Mukono, Wakiso and Luwero, Asea added.
“The project is going to develop capacity in terms of infrastructure, and a controlled environment, where we will be able to initiate some of those flowers and then later have seeds that are well adapted to our environment,” Asea said.
Apart from seeds, the partnership will also facilitate technology transfer, building the certification capacity of research institutions, improve technical skills of vegetable farmers and lay a foundation for new vegetable seed in Uganda.
The sh30b project is in response to demands from vegetable farmers for locally produced seed to cut cost of imported seeds.
Christopher Nsamba, a horticultural farmer from Namulonge, said on average, he buys improved tomato seeds at sh900,000 in order for him to make good profi t.
The director general of NARO, Dr Ambrose Agona, said almost all the exotic vegetables on the market are imported.
“When you look at the production systems and then the market demand, it outstretches our capacity as NARO; there is too much science behind producing seed. So, we shall tap from our Korean counterparts new technologies like hydroponics and aeroponics to increase vegetable seed production,” Agona said.
When will the seed be ready?
The KOICA programme manager, Dr Myoung Rae cho, said breeding takes longer, farmers can only expect the seeds in a period of four to six years.
The state minister for agriculture, Fred Kyakulaga Bwino, said the project will help avail seeds for vegetable production, a venture that is being promoted among smallholder farmers, through the Parish Development Model.