Bunyoro Farm Clinic registers myriad of agribusiness lessons

Saturday August 24 2019

Farm Clinic participants listen to an

Farm Clinic participants listen to an agronomist as he explains how a walking tractor is operated. Photo by Francis Mugerwa  

By Denis Bbosa

It is not every day that the gates of Bulindi Zardi are wide open to the public but on August 10, they were. And the enthusiastic farmers were given freedom to tour the facility getting hands-on agribusiness knowledge as the Farm Clinic returned to Hoima District.
Early bird catches the worm
Unlike last year, the educative event started a few minutes after 8am, active and prospective farmers had started to stream in at the venue as early as 6am. They were eager to book front seats in the quadrangle tent that housed the introductory session. “We were more organised, we learned some lessons from the first one and we started on time. The farmers were given more time to learn more, breakfast and lunch were served early enough,” Bulindi Zardi director Dr Sylvester Baguma, the chief organiser, says.
Not even the light drizzle could shake the farmers’ resolve to return home armed with knowledge. They retreated to the seven learning tents and kept on engaging the experts.
Tough questions
Dr Baguma and his agronomist colleagues admitted they were particularly thrilled by the wide range of questions that the farmers asked, many were beyond the day’s learning scope but still pivotal to the development of the agriculture sector in Uganda.
In a Runyakitara dialect and English, the inquisitive participants asked financial institutions available, headed by the Bank of Uganda many questions including why it was a hustle getting their loan applications through while to the Naro experts, they expressed their frustration on the increased occurrence of new disease trends and diminishing cattle production in the area.
Even after the State Minister for Public Service, Mr David Karubanga, also MP for Kigorobya County, Hoima District, pledged government support towards agriculture, many attendants called for a ‘tangible approach and response’ from the government agricultural agencies. “How I wish the Farm Clinic could come back here every day. Bunyoro remains a strategic area for oil and agriculture co-existence, little wonder the people will keep on yearning for agribusiness knowledge,” Dr Baguma stressed.
Sponsors get value for money
According to James Jungulu, the Stanbic Bank manager of direct enterprise, they will be in the Farm Clinic adventure for a long haul after experiencing the Hoima outing.
“We appreciate the opportunity to get close to the customers that Nation Media Group and its partners have given us. I recommend that more agricultural enterprises such as poultry and more collaborators dealing in pesticides, be added in the next farm clinic. Farmers came to our stall with challenges in agricultural financing and we presented to them the available opportunities including the grain,” he said.
Rosette Bamwine, the head of Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) at Bank of Uganda, says the second Farm Clinic met her expectation, both as a farming practitioner and BoU representative. “The turnout was very good, our target as ACF was to inform them that the monies are available and we hope they act as ambassadors to those that didn’t come. We had many banks at Bulindi to tell the people that they have the money and teach team on how to write proper business plans. Most farmers doshoddy work that delay financial loan processing. If they put what they learned from the Naro experts to use, we hope to receive more quality applications and expect smart farming. We shall increase food security benefits and guaranteed food security in the country,” Bamwine said.
To George Mutagubya, the advocacy and communications manager at aBi Trust, the impact the Farm Clinics have had in rural areas explains the coming on board of big organisations such as BoU and Stanbic Bank.
“The trainings have improved; as partners we are very happy with NMG we would like to have the number of exhibitors increase, so the element of technology adoption is increased,” Mutagubya reasons.
Climate smart farming
The farmers also learned technologies that they can adopt to boost their livelihood and food security for the country.
There were various big and small agro processing machines on display with each tailor-made to make agribusiness simpler, cost effective and enjoyable.
Previous editions of the farm clinics have proven instrumental in shining the light on the problems of farmers and the Bunyoro edition trode the lines of climate farming that addressed the weather and soil patterns in the area to achieve their agribusiness goals.
According to the Seeds of Gold editor, Tabu Charles Gazzaman, the 14th Seeds of Gold Clinic attracted hundreds of farmers.
“I was overwhelmed by the number of farmers that turned up in droves for the trainings, knowledge-sharing, exchanging of ideas for better agribusiness practices, and demonstrations on the best farming practices. This Hoima Farm Clinic has set precedence,” Tabu said. The next Farm Clinic will be on September 7 in Masaka.
Piggery takes over apiary
Last year in July, apiary (beekeeping) took the crown as the most craved for enterprise registering more than 1,000 participants. The tide seemed to have changed this time around as piggery, banana and fish, in that order, attracted the biggest attendance. Piggery, handled by the eloquent and experienced duo of Dr William Guma and Pauline Birungi, had many learners on their toes, especially when they elaborated the countless advantages of rearing the Camborough species.
Two gigantic Camborough pig breeds, each estimated to weigh more than 300 kilogrammes roamed in their pigsties for the practical sessions.
Among other things, farmers learned their ease to handle feeding patterns, choosing the proper breed, insemination techniques and curbing the diseases that attack the Camborough, which left many convinced that Bunyoro piggery enterprise fortunes can be drastically changed if they gave it a try.