By HOMELAND MEDIA TEAM
The management of the National Animal Genetics Resources Centre and DataBank (NAGRC&DB) has appealed for more funding to effectively implement the ongoing food security project on their ranches and farms nationwide.
NAGRC&DB is engaged in the large-scale growing of maize and soybean across its farms and ranches nationwide in response to the Cabinet’s adoption of a paper by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to boost food security in the country.
According to the State Minister for Animal Industry, Lt Col (Rtd) Bright Rwamirama, while NAGRC&DB has so far planted about 12 square miles of corn and soybean across their nine ranches spread across the country, they are faced with serious funding gaps.
The minister says they face high prohibitive costs of machinery hire, especially for bush clearing operations, excessive heavy rains, which have derailed both bush clearing and tillage operations due to soggy and inoperable soil conditions, excessively high costs of fuel for all mechanized operations, and production delays occasioned by the eviction of encroachers on government land.
He also says scattered encroacher settlements derailed efficient mechanized bush clearing, tillage, and propagation operations as machine operators had to maneuver around numerous plots of homesteads, gardens, and graveyards resulting in unwarranted fuel and time wastage
He says the presence of fake agro-inputs on the market has proven ineffective against pests and weeds, culminating in unbudgeted for repeat applications and lack of irrigation equipment to facilitate longer planting periods has led to unbudgeted expenditure on the establishment of pressurized farm water irrigation systems.
Lt Col (Rtd) Rwamirama says they are also impacted by large-scale infestation by the fall armyworms that have proven resistant to the available pesticides and wild game especially elephants, buffalo, zebras, baboons, monkeys, and antelopes that continue to feed on established maize gardens in Nshaara, Sanga and Got Apwoy ranches that border Lake Mburo and Murchison falls National Parks.
“This has also led to unbudgeted for expenditure on day and night guard services,” he says.
To resolve the challenges, Lt Col (Rtd) Rwamirama says a solar-powered groundwater irrigation system has been established at Kasolwe stock farm (the most water-stressed of all the production sites) to alleviate the prevailing water stress in the maize there and mechanized pesticide application has been repeatedly undertaken and is ongoing at all the food and animal feed production sites.
He also says all agro-input suppliers have been instructed to provide viability certification to support the provision of high-quality agro-inputs. Chain-link fencing has been adopted as an immediate interim solution to the challenge of wild game at Nshaara, Sanga and Got Apwoy ranches and is ongoing.
Lt Col (Rtd) Rwamirama says engagement of Uganda Wildlife Authority to facilitate the establishment of a lion-proof fence at the boundaries of Lake Mburo national game park and Murchison falls national game park with Nshaara and Got Apwoy ranches respectively has been undertaken and is ongoing.
He also says that they have deployed day and night guard services to protect the maize and soya bean gardens from wild game and trespassers
But the minister says these require funding, which is currently not available.