Wednesday August 6 2014

West Nile farmers adopting better varieties

By Clement Aluma

Many West Nile farmers are realising that low yields they get are because they are stuck to old varieties of sorghum. And if they adopt improved varieites, this could change, a seed expert has said.

“In Uganda, government has not yet allowed genetically modified crops, we promote what farmers want and link them to farmers who are using the improved variety,” noted Francis Okot, who is part of the collaboration between Abi Zardi and Wageningen University to improve sorghum varieties.

Through Abi Zardi, its zonal research institute, National Agricultural Research Organization (Naro), has developed improved millet, sorghum, maize, potatoes, cassava and many others, but their adoptability is still slow.
However, some of the new improved varieties are being grown by some farmers and they are happy about the growth. They say these take a shorter time to grow, they are resistant to weather stresses like drought, and are compatible to soils in the region.

Stephen Ombabua, a sorghum farmer from Oluodri village in Manibe Sub-county, Arua District, said: “Our fear has always been that these are genetically modified and that they may not have market. Now, we are convinced that they are just improved ones, which we can also do and are doing well.”
As a result, some farmer groups are being trained to do seed multiplication in the communities and are earning some income from the business.