Farmers group’s efforts to set up a seed centre
Posted Wednesday, March 20 2013 at 00:00
The farmers’ group, Shupo, took its name from the three issues it was formed to tackle. Since 1997, its business has grown to include micro-credit and now into seed production.
When 17 farmers in Kyazanga, Lwengo District, set out to form a farmers group in July 1997 they were afflicted by three problems that they wanted to overcome: sickness, hunger, and poverty. So they decided to name their group, Shupo—which is derived from the above issues they focused on. Today, it has a membership of 118; of whom 58 are men and 60 are women.
Through Shupo, their aim is to produce enough food for their households and some extra to generate income and improve welfare. They have since been engaged in several activities.
Currently, the farmers’ group is working with Namulonge agricultural research station and Integrated Seed Sector Development in Uganda (ISSD Uganda) to set up a bean seed centre.
“We have been enabled by the researchers to come up with such bean varieties as NABE15, NABE16, and NABE17,” said Mr Stephen Begumisa, a Shupo member, during the group’s Annual General Meeting held on March 9.
It was also attended by Dr Stanley Nkalubo, a bean breeder at Naro, Mr Gabriel Luyima, a Research Officer at Namulonge, and Mr Chris Tanansi Muwanika, a seed expert from ISSD Uganda.
Begumisa said researchers worked with the farmers through a participatory approach for them to appreciate the importance of experimentation and to realise what works best for them and what does not.
“They have been good partners because they brought us the planting material and bought the beans from us at good prices. They packaged the beans and sold them as seed to other farmers but now we want to be the ones packaging and selling them ourselves,” he added.
On his part, Dr Nkalubo disclosed Namulonge research institute would support Shupo’s effort to set up a bean seed production centre and made a personal contribution of Shs1m.
At the same meeting, Mr Muwanika undertook to link the group to ISSD Uganda to help in development of seeds and planting material for beans, groundnuts, cassava, pasture, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, millet and sorghum.
Shupo Secretary, Joseph Byansi, revealed that land had been purchased at Muchomo along Masaka-Mbarara highway for the construction of the seed centre.
The group grows different bean varieties on hired 10-acre land although individual farmers have also been growing the beans on their own pieces of land.
“Last season, we sold a kilo of beans at between Shs2,500 and Shs3,000 and now we are all eager to start planting,” Byansi said
But Dr Nkalubo, however, pointed out that their production was still below required volumes for a bean seed centre. He suggested an annual target of 100 tonnes of bean seed.
Apart from growing beans, Shupo members also grow coffee and other crops and in 2008, they ventured into the micro-credit business. Today, their SACCO is worth about Shs45m.