Zombo farmers take up barley farming
Posted Wednesday, February 27 2013 at 00:00
Farmers in Zombo District, located in West Nile, are adopting barley as a crop as they can earn from since it was introduced in early last year. Under an arrangement by Nile Breweries, the farmers started growing the cereal to supply to the company.
The district was selected because of its suitable climate and soils. The pioneer farmers have received their first earnings from their sale to the brewery.
They expressed their early satisfaction in the project, with the gains outweighing the challenges they are facing.
Mr Thomas Ocibire, 63, of Alicudu village in Abanga Sub-county, said, “The crop yields faster than any cash crop I have ever grown in the past besides its being unique in Zombo,” he said, comparing it to coffee and maize, which are among other cash crops he cultivates. What he also liked about barley is the good yield.
“I planted 6kg of seeds in a field less than a quarter of an acre and harvested 65 kg. I feel that is good for a start,”
Ocibire attributed this success to his wife and family members for their support as he was starting to plant barley. “Women have played a major role in this project because they help in final clearing of the shambas (garden) before planting seeds as well as harvesting, threshing and cleaning.”
Other farmers in the same sub-county had similar experiences: Anjelo Ozelle, 50, of Jupujuru village, said he received 5kg of barley seeds under the project. And he planted on about an eighth of an acre and harvested 96kgs. Luwija Arombo, 60, of Okemu Pamitu village, said she got 35kg at harvest from the 4kg she got at the start.
“Though barley came late in my parish in 2012, I helped in sensitising other farmers to get involved in the farming and many are already preparing their field for this season,” said another farmer, Gaspare Okoku Vunga, 65, of Abibarem village.
He is the Treasurer for Zombo District Barley and Sorghum Association. Out of 5kg of seeds he planted, the output was 100 kg.
Luiji Ozelle, 50, of Alichudu village is one of the incoming farmers who are waiting to start the project this season. “I waited to see the outcome from the pioneer farmers and I’m now convinced to join them. What I liked most is the ready market of the crops by Nile Breweries,” he said.
According to Mr Geoffrey Ojara, Nile Breweries’ extension officer in charge of Zombo, it is still a new project and the initial steps are to change attitudes.
“Because when we came here, about 80 percent of farmers didn’t know about barley,” he said. “There is a ready market despite the fact that they cultivate on the small scale.”
The production is still low because farmers are still getting to know the crop and benefits attached to it. The major challenge the nature of soil; it is thick, heavy and compact, though very fertile.
This is due to couch grass being the dominant weed type in the area. As a result, majority of farmers plant smaller acreages, because they are unable to cultivate bigger acreages.
Ojara said Nile Breweries had solicited 500 acres of land in the district, for barley farming from this year. “This will eventually attract all small famers to be outgrowers,” he said.