Farmer's Diary: The importance of using good seed
Posted Wednesday, October 23 2013 at 00:00
We seem to have rain in all parts of Uganda and farmers are busy in the fields. The main aim of every farmer is to get high yields from the seed planted and all careful farmers devote some time to finding good seed.
Most agriculturalists agree that the choice of good planting material increases yields by 30 per cent. African farmers have often been criticised for being slow to accept modern farming practices, which is given as the main reason hindering the African Green Revolution.
For a long time, most of our farmers have been saving seed from the past harvest or exchanging seed with fellow farmers who have had good yields.
By and large, there has been a slow response to the use of improved seed obtained through modern breeding techniques and which can be purchased from farmers’ shops. In the case of crops like coffee, cassava, bananas and some vegetables, there are recommended seed centres where farmers may go to purchase seedlings, cuttings, vines, and plantlets.
The majority of smallholder farmers due to financial limitations, ignorance, and other factors have stuck to traditional methods of acquiring planting material with hardly any regard to such considerations as disease and pest resistance, drought tolerance, and growth period, let alone quality and quantity of yields.
Seed saved from previous harvests usually gives poor yields as compared to improved seed recommended by agriculturalists. Take hybrid maize, for instance. The seed breeders spend time selecting different maize plants and manipulating their pollination to ensure that the maize seed produced will be high yielding.
However, when the farmer saves the seed obtained from a previous harvest, that good looking seed could probably have been got with pollen from poorer varieties making it low in quality and bound to give poor yields.
The choice to use plantlets created through tissue culture gives the farmer the chance to grow the exact copies of the desired crop besides being clean and disease-free seed.
Other factors to consider include fertiliser application and irrigation, in case the rains fail. The farmer is also expected to carry out good agronomic practices such as weeding and pruning in good time as well as planting the crop according to recommended spacing..