What you need to know:
- In their groups this should be a pertinent question for discussion. And this should not only be limited to maize production. We should be asking what the best farmers do to come up with high yields.
The maize harvesting season is here and the general observation across the country is that we have had a bountiful harvest. It would be a good idea for everyone to seek to find out what could have led to the good harvest. What did the most successful farmer in the area do to achieve high yields?
In their groups this should be a pertinent question for discussion. And this should not only be limited to maize production. We should be asking what the best farmers do to come up with high yields.
There are a number of factors that are necessary for successful farming, including, rain or irrigation, fertilizer application, timely weeding, pest control, and of course, quality seed. Only about 2.9 percent of farming households in Uganda use irrigation according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). On the whole our agriculture is rain-fed. We are lucky that we don’t have long droughts every year but with the onset of climate change it is increasingly becoming difficult to be sure when to plant crops. We are also seeing new pests and crop diseases. The population is increasing rapidly and there is need for increased food production. The land size is not increasing and there is greater scrambling for it.
This is the reason most successful farmers are now turning to planting improved seeds developed at agricultural research institutions and universities. Unlike in the past, Uganda now has professional plant breeders to prepare crop varieties that are high yielding, resistant to diseases, insect pests, parasitic weeds, and tolerant to drought. Some research institutions even work with farmers groups to prepare the improved seed varieties.
Farmers’ shops and seed companies are stocking quality seeds for farmers to use and every farmer aspiring to get good results should pay more attention to the type of seeds to plant every season. It is no longer profitable to plant seeds saved by farmers from their harvests because results have shown that the yields tend to be low.
Plant breeders offer us different seed varieties and offer more choices. The choices could be about fruit size, fruit taste, yield, or tolerance to drought conditions, resistance to disease or even marketability. We are in an era of technological development which we must take advantage of. Tissue culture, grafting, hybridisation, and others are all technologies we must embrace.
Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist,