What you need to know:
- Ready to educate the farmers were experts from Kachwekano Zonal Research and Development institute (KaZARDI), Bank of Uganda, Stanbic Bank, Zoetis and Naro, among others.
A cool breeze wafted from the breath taking and undulating hills of Kabale to Kachwekano ZARDI grounds where Seeds of Gold held its 26th farm clinic last Saturday.
The event started a few minutes after 8am and in attendance were hundreds of farmers and farming enthusiasts who started to stream to the venue as early as 7am, braving the morning chill coming from Lake Bunyonyi.
Some came from Rukungiri, others Mbarara, Rubanda, Bushenyi, Kisoro and of course from the larger Kigezi region all eager to interact with experts.
Ready to educate the farmers were experts from Kachwekano Zonal Research and Development institute (KaZARDI), Bank of Uganda, Stanbic Bank, Zoetis and Naro, among others.
And the questions from farmers to the specialists were varied. Erick Mbarara, a model farmer cultivating six acres at Byaruhinda, Kamuganguzi Sub-county in Kabale District, strode into apple training tent, accompanied by his grandson.
“I farm apples; I have more than 300 trees, but pests and diseases are pulling me back,” he told, an agronomist at KaZARDI.
After a brief examination, Mbarara was told his plants were under attack from varied pests and diseases that included white mealybugs, botrytis, root-knot nematodes, fungal mould and brown spot.
Besides use of pesticides, Mbarara was told to practice crop rotation, test his soil before planting and observe hygiene on the farm.
Peter Byaruhanga, a farmer from Rubanda enquired why his pumpkins and other vegetables were rotting on the farm, and he was informed that they lacked calcium and water, besides being attacked by botrytis disease.
Dr Abel Arinaitwe, a research scientist in plant diseases at KaZARDI had some counsel for Cephas Murungi, a farmer from Katuna whose bean crops were constantly ‘burnt’ by frost.
“Cultivate breeds that are adapted for the colder higher altitudes in which Katuna lies. At Naro, we have developed a variety of beans which are suited for different ecological conditions,” he said.
Daniel Bazooba, a livestock farmer from Kigezi, was at a loss that his cow had shown signs of heat months after he was sure it was in-calf. “For more than four months, I thought my cow had conceived, then early this month, I was shocked to realise she was on heat again,” he said.
Dr Silver Tukamushaba noted that the cow may have ‘aborted’ or lost the foetus before development, which is usually caused by heat stress, toxic agents, severe trauma, diseases such as bovine viral diarrhoea and an abrupt change in the cows feeding and nutrition habits, among others.
The factors, according to the specialist, could also cause early embryonic deaths, still births and mummified calves/foetuses. He advised farmers to properly care their animals when they are in-calf.
The farmers were also given new skills in goat management and proper agronomy of mushroom farming among others.
Maj. Gen Timothy Mutebile and his colleague Lt. Gen Jim Owoyesigire were among the knowledge seeking farmers that graced the 26th edition of the Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic.