Over time, the rotational farm clinic sessions have proved to be a shot in the arm for the agriculture sector as Uganda seeks to make inroads in uplifting the agriculture sector - the foundation of our economy.
The clinics have always lived up to the farmers’ heightened expectations in all the areas they have been to; Mbarara, Kabanyoro, Lira and Hoima and the Bulindi Zardi return after a year hiatus, promises nothing less.
To be punctuated into trainings, question and answer sessions, one-on-one interactions between experts and farmers and demonstrations and hands-on trials, today’s event promises to live no stone unturned in a region still struggling to strike a balance between farming and oil exploration.
Feedback for the ground breaking Farm Clinic in Bulindi has pressed the organisers and crop and animal experts to remodel the sessions along climate smart farming and venturing into enterprises that have market and available seed.
Bunyoro farmers - young and old - expected to throng in from the Albertine region districts of Buliisa, Masindi, Hoima, Kibaale and Kiryandongo are expected to carry along a myriad of questions on diseases attacking their enterprises plus seek knowledge on smart farming.
And according to Bulindi Zardi officials, about 14 experienced plant doctors, researchers and agronomists are armed to give agronomic advice - free of charge.
According to Bulindi Zardi director, Dr Sylvester Baguma, the first ever farm clinic held in Bunyoro unearthed more than 600 agribusiness job opportunities from the booming oil sector for the Albertine.
Monitor Publications Limited (MPL) Senior Promotions and Activations Officer Connie Kunihira Ssebuliba believes that number will double and the more than 2,000 participants that were present last time have been transformed greatly in one way or another.
“The feedback we got from Bunyoro encouraged us to go back for the second time as farmers shared their success stories and challenges since the first edition,” Ssebuliba told Seeds of Gold.
She added: “The experts added new concepts to be taught like crop and livestock species, post-harvest handling, agribusiness and crop/ livestock management, which we believe are the modern tenets of the agribusiness sector in Uganda.”
Apiary enterprise took the day in the last edition and Baguma, who will lead a rich cast of seasoned tutors all armed to teach the trending farming technologies, says they expert bananas to take over.
“We can handle more than 1,000 farmers ranging from starters to progressive commercial farmers. The Farm Clinic will also be useful to students, processors, marketers, policy makers and NGOS and CSOs,” he added.
Baguma expects farmers, processors, marketers and other stakeholders in the Albertine Districts to attend in droves like they did last time. He stressed that all the demonstration facilities are ready to give the participants the best practical lessons.
“Those who attended were very excited with the knowledge they had acquired. Many are already practicing and the few we have visited are doing very well. Farmers are increasingly getting interested in improved varieties, breeds and management practices to deal with emerging challenges to farming like climate change,” Baguma added.
He says much emphasis will be on climate change because it is a challenge to which they have not built sufficient capacity among farmers to adapt or build resilience among farmers.
In addition, there is less knowledge among farmers on ways to mitigate causes of climate change emerging from farmers’ usual production practices.
“We had a record turnout last time of about 2,500 people excluding those who had not registered. I expect a modest increase of 20-30 per cent. All equipment is ready; all the enterprises selected are very relevant. In fact, last time farmers didn’t get enough time to visit all enterprise, as they wished,” says Baguma.
About Bulindi Zardi
Bulindi Zardi is one of the 16 public agricultural research institutes of NARO. Their primary mission is to innovate for agricultural transformation.
The vision is to have a competitive society supported by an agricultural research innovation system while their goal is to increase total factor productivity and access to research products and services for inclusive growth.
About the trainers
Dr Sylvester Baguma (Bulindi Zardi director)
The Bulindi Zardi director holds a Master’s degree in Agriculture from Makerere University, a Master’s degree in Management Information Systems from Cranfield University - UK and a PhD in Knowledge Management from Loughborough University in UK.
Dr Fred Ssekiwoko (Senior Research Officer)
Ssekiwoko has a PhD in plant biotechnology from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is Senior Research Officer (Head of Crops and Natural Resources Research Programme at BuZARDI)
The crop expert has specialised in plant diseases and with more than 16 years of experience in agricultural research.
He will train the participants on improved banana production technologies and disease management with much emphasis on management of banana bacterial wilt.
Dr Patrick Kalunda (Socio-economist)
Kalunda holds a PhD in International and Rural Development from the University of Reading, UK and Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Makerere University.
He is currently working with BuZARDI as a socio-economist with 14 years of experience in agricultural research. His training will focus on cost benefit analysis of agricultural enterprises.
Dr Ronald Kakeeto (Research Officer)
Holds a PhD in plant breeding from University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Kakeeto is also a research scientist.
He has 10 years working experience in a research field, seven of which are post master’s degree.
He has been actively involved in technology development and adaptation with focus on yield enhancement in various crops such as, groundnuts, beans, rice, maize and cassava in the zone. He will facilitate learning on improved rice cultivation technologies.
Wilber Wambi (Plant breeder)
He also works with BuZARDI as a Research Officer-Plant Breeder/Geneticist with nine years of professional working experience in agricultural research, crop production, training and project implementation.
His training will focus on improved maize varieties, their production packages and management of fall army worm.
Dr Williams Guma (Animal health scientist)
Dr Guma holds a master degree of veterinary preventive medicine and bachelor of veterinary medicine from Makerere University. He leads animal health research in Lake Albert Crescent Agro-ecological Zone (LACZ). He will train participants on improved animal production technologies with emphasis on disease prevention, detection and control.
Jude Mugisha (Farm manager)
The farm manager with five years of experience in agricultural research, crop production, training and seed multiplication, holds bachelor’s degree of agribusiness management of Makerere University.
He leads seed multiplication activities on station and coordinates training of interns, farmers and students at the institute.
His training will focus on quality seed multiplication with emphasis on bananas.
Lydia Kabasomi (Apiculture technician)
She holds a diploma in beekeeping obtained from Nyabyeya Forestry College. At Bulindi Zardi, she operates as an apiculture technician. She has seven years of agricultural research experience. She spearheads research on different bee forages, have baits and queen rearing, product development and value addition. She will train the participants on different bee forages, identification and management of bee pests, queen rearing, and harvesting and processing different bee products (honey, wax, venom, and propolis).
Lucy Auma (Crop technician)
Auma holds a diploma in agriculture obtained from Bukalasa Agriculture College. She works as crop technician in crop section. Her training will focus on banana agronomy, soil and water conservation, and diseases management.
Lwaki Mulabuke (Livestock)
Lwaki holds a diploma in animal husbandry obtained from Arapai Agriculture College. He will conduct trainings on basic pig and dairy cattle husbandry practices focusing on feeds and feeding, pasture conservation and feed formulation.
Geoffrey Ozuma (Crop technician)
Ozuma holds a diploma in agriculture obtained from Arapai Agriculture College and is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Agriculture and Environment. He has eight years of agricultural research. He will conduct trainings on improved crop production technologies.
Edith Karungi (Crop technician)
Karungi holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Rural Innovation of Makerere University and Diploma in Agriculture from Bukalasa College. Karungi will focus on maize agronomy and sustainable land management.