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MESSAGE TO FARMERS BY THE MINISTER

MESSAGE TO FARMERS BY THE MINISTER, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE ANIMAL INDUSTRY AND FISHERIES

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- FIRST SEASON 2012
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Dear farmers and other practitioners in the agricultural sector,
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Introduction
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Farming in Uganda is basically rain-fed. Its performance is becoming more vulnerable to effects of climate variability and change which is caused by Global Warming.  The year 2012 has begun with such climate variabilities. The months of January and February, have been characterized by higher than normal temperatures, which has left crops, livestock and fisheries resources in a stressed condition. The on-going rains in most parts of the country mark an early on-set of the first rains 2012 (source: Department of Meteorology).
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Early Planting
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Where rains have started, farmers should continue with bush clearing and land preparation. Planting of cereals such as maize, sorghum, millet and rice is recommended. Dry-sowing of cereals is also recommended in those areas where rains have not started. The planting of beans should be carried out when rains become steady by mid-march, because the likely dry spell that may follow the ongoing showers may damage beans after germination. Humid catchments should be targeted for growing vegetables now before rains intensify in April. Planting early maturing and drought tolerant varieties is encouraged in case rains are not adequate, especially in the rain shadow areas. During land preparation please adhere to the recommended moisture and soil conservation techniques. The high demand for food exports to neighboring countries offers a good opportunity for income generation from farming as a business. Farmers are encouraged to open up increased acreages for crops that have regional demand in order to benefit from the likely good commodity prices.
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Root Crops
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Cassava cuttings and sweet potatoe vines are likely to be in short supply due to effects of the severe dry season and pests and diseases. While the spread of cassava mosaic disease has been controlled, other diseases and pests are coming up namely Cassava brown streak, the brown green mites and white flies affecting cassava.  Cassava Brown Streak, a new cassava virus disease that causes rotting of tubers, is widespread in all cassava growing districts. When uprooted, roots are rotten and discolored. Watch out for such symptoms and remove and destroy all infected plants. Farmers are advised to seek advice from the nearest agricultural extension workers on how to get disease free planting materials especially varieties recently developed by NARO for increased yields.
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Plantation Crops
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Both coffee and bananas, the main sources of income and food respectively for most households have been affected by the severe dry season experienced in January and February 2012. The crops have been generally stressed and their flowering reduced. This is likely to reduce the quantity and quality of next harvests expected from May 2012 onwards. In order to boost production in the second half of the year, farmers are advised to conserve soil and moisture within the plantations, apply organic manure and continuously practice good crop husbandry.
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Access to Certified Seed and Planting Materials:
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Farmers are advised to avoid becoming victims of conveyors of counterfeit seed and planting materials. Consult your nearest agricultural extension worker who should direct you to a registered supplier of certified seed and/or certified vegetative planting materials. All such advice will be held on record, by the extension worker for follow-up and verifications where need may arise. Do not become a customer to a counterfeit seed trader.
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Pests and Disease
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The extreme temperatures experienced during the recent dry season may cause pests and disease epidemics that may affect the performance of both livestock and crops. Farmers and the general public are advised to be on alert and report any such incidences to the nearest local authorities and to the nearest agricultural extension workers.
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Livestock Management
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Livestock farmers are advised to improve pasture fields by planting pasture seeds. Water ways leading to various watering points should be cleared to ensure harvesting of adequate and clean water. Ensure appropriate livestock housing with good drainage and hygiene to reduce risk of diseases. Rainy conditions encourage increased incidences of biting flies, tsetse flies and ticks. Farmers are advised to increase the frequency of spraying with recommended acaricides which kill both ticks and flies. Please consult the nearest animal husbandry extension workers on the recommended acaricides to use and the frequency of spraying.
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Food Security
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While the harvest of cereals from the second season 2011 was good across the country due to good rains received during 2011, the performance of beans was below average due to effects of heavy rains received in November. There is already an apparent shortfall in the supply of beans in the country which is expected to worsen after planting by April 2012. Households are cautioned to reduce the sale of household reserves of beans and other pulses and to judiciously use the reserves. In addition, each household is encouraged to plant fruit trees, vegetables and to have a garden of food security crops including cassava, sweet potatoes and yams in order to ensure food and nutrition security for the households .
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In conclusion, I take this opportunity to inform all farming households that climate change is now a global concern and Uganda, among other countries is already experiencing its adverse effects. However, appropriate farming practices are known to reduce such effects. In this regard all District and Sub-County leaders are urged to mobilize farmers and to support District and Sub-County Agricultural Production Staff to teach and advise farmers appropriately. I thank all the farmers in Uganda, and I thank all the farming community leaders and extension workers for their contribution to the national economy and for feeding the national population. I wish you a fruitful first season (Season A) for the year 2012.
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For God and My Country
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