District chairman establishes demonstration farm
Posted Wednesday, February 27 2013 at 00:00
Mr George William Mutabazi, the district chairman, has always loved farming and he used to grow crops and rear goats on part of his father’s three square miles of land in Kyalutwaka village, Lwengo Sub-county in present day Lwengo District.
His father had over 1,000 cows and a variety of food crops but during his childhood, Mutabazi was not happy to see the neighbours beg for food and milk from his father.
He used to give some of the milk from his only cow he got from his father and some of the cassava he yielded from his garden to mothers in the neighbourhood.
Most had no land to grow food and they were ignorant about technologies of using small pieces of land to get high farm yields.
After his studies, he contested for Bukoto Mid-West parliamentary seat in 2001. He campaigned on the manifesto of promoting agriculture but he lost. He bounced back in 2010 for district chairman and was elected.
"As a leader, I want to change the mindset of the people to engage fully in agriculture and utilise the land they have’’ Mutabazi said.
In an effort in this direction, he has established demonstration farms. There is one for cassava, five acres of maize , three acres of matooke, five acres of gonja (plaintain) and eight acres of coffee.
Lack of market
There is also an apiary to exhibit best practices in beekeeping as well as high yielding breeds of pigs, cattle and goats. ‘’With maize, I harvested 75 bags and I sold it to schools around but there is still a lack of market for our agricultural produce,’’ he said.
Despite agriculture being the backbone of the economy, there is inadequate attention in areas like Lwengo, where the production of food, cash crops and milk is low.
The district has eight sub-counties and 42 parishes. So, Mutabazi has mobilised 10 potential model farmers per parish to train local farmers in good farming skills and conduct study visits through their farmers’ groups.
Hands on experience
The farmers, both men and women, are mobilised from the villages and gather at Mutabazi’s farm at Kyalutwaka village.
They are trained in organic farming, animal husbandry and water harvesting technologies and irrigation. The latter are because the district lies in an area faced with prolonged dry seasons. They get hands-on experience of adopting technologies faster and spreading to other farmers.
So far, about 120 farmers have been trained and Mutabazi says the initiative would give a chance to local farmers to get knowledge on better farming methods for higher yields.
Because of challenges of land tenure, Mutabaazi has allocated land to residents to grow food like groundnuts, cassava, maize, sweet potatoes and vegetables and has distributed improved seeds to farmers.
Last year, the district council passed a resolution that requires each household to have at least 200 cassava plants so that there is enough food in the households with surplus for sale.