August 3, 2011
FARMERS engaged in horticultural produce at sub-county levels are to be supported with green house technologies, the NAADS board chairman, Dr. Mwalimu Musheshe has said.
“The move is intended to boost productivity of horticultural produce in the middle of declining soil fertility, weather fluctuations and increasing disease incident,” said Musheshe, during a press conference at the NAADS secretariat on Monday. Musheshe together with other NAADS board members had just returned from Kenya where they toured several agricultural farms, companies and technology centres.
Once funds are made available, the board also wants the NAADS secretariat to demonstrate the technology with themselves (board members) as model farmers.
“In our report we directed the NAADS executive director, Dr. Silim Nahdy to promote green house technology in the country starting with Board members as demonstration farmers,” says Musheshe.
While in Kenya, the board visited Lake Basin Development Authority and subsidiary projects in Kisumu; Njoro Canners in Nakuru, Highland seed Co. in Nakuru, Longonot farm in Naivasha, Kenya horticultural exporters, horticultural crops development authority and Ashoka in Nairobi.
He said the visit to the different institutions was agreed in their terms of reference when they were being appointed by the former, agriculture minister, Hope Mwesigye.
“We agreed that the NAADS board members to always be exposed to the workings of other institutions within and outside the country,” said Musheshe.
He said according to the recently launched Agricultural Technology and Agribusiness Advisory Services (ATAAS) project, resources in the next five years will allocated towards developing new agricultural technologies and strengthening the national agricultural research systems.
According to Musheshe, the board was therefore mandated to visit such centres in Kenya to expose them on how best to implement the project.
“We decided to visit the institutions and companies in Kenya because there is talk that labour productivity of Kenyans is far higher than that of Ugandans,” he said, Adding that, “So it was hoped that members be introduced to fundamental factors that have made Kenyans efficient in areas of technical and governance sectors.”
He said as a result of their field trip, they intend to develop policies that will focus on strengthening technologies especially those related to provision of water to farmers through small and intermediate irrigation schemes.
Why greenhouse technology?
Last year, the former agriculture minister, Hope Mwesigye launched the green house farming in Kabale district.The technology, being promoted by a local company, the Nile Fresh Produce (NFP) in partnership with Israeli and South Korean firms, aims at promoting quality vegetable production for export. According to NFP director of operations, Pius Kwesiga, the Israelites are by far the leading producers of quality vegetables for the European market and the US. He says the consortium plans to invest about 10 million euros to enable the district develop an agricultural infrastructure that will empower the local farmers.The investment will also lead to the transfer of technology and skills for local farmers to become self-sustaining.
Kwesiga says the consortium’s plans includes putting up a sorting and grading facility, cold storage and a processing unit, which will handle 1,500 tonnes of vegetables and herbs annually.
The nucleus farm and factory will directly employ 600 people and 40,000 out growers will be targeted to supply the facility with vegetables and herbs. Kwesiga also says 90% of the vegetables consumed in Uganda are bought from Kenya. “Ugandan farmers do not have the capacity to pick, clean and package vegetables in a manner to enable them access markets from hotels and supermarkets,” he says. Greenhouse gardening had become one of the fastest growing way of growing vegetables because of its ability to lengthen and extend the growing cycle of vegetables.
“When farmers own greenhouses, they will no longer be held hostage by the ongoing climatic changes. The seasons will no longer dictate when farmers will begin and end vegetable cultivation,” he says.
He notes that AdaFresh, the Israel Company that will work with the farmers in Kabale, exports fresh agricultural produce from Israel, meeting the urgent need for a dynamic and mutually supportive link between quality Israeli growers and the continuously changing global markets.
“We have agreed to use their platform to export vegetables and herbs from Uganda to the already existing market,” he notes.
The company works with the finest growers, who uphold standards, and involves them in development decisions.
“As part of its commitment to developing agriculture and offering new produce to global markets, AdaFresh will work closely with Ugandan farmers in promoting quality vegetable cultivation,” says Kwesiga.
By supporting this vital aspect of agriculture, the company will assist farmers in reaching new markets for potential produce, while helping buyers obtain new varieties. AdaFresh considers this to be an important aspect of its activities, he said.
“This will ensure that there is value-addition to vegetables and herbs produced in Uganda and availability of the required vegetables,” he says.