March to May 2020 Cropping Season Advisory

Kampala, 17th march 2020. In practice of roles of the Ministry to provide seasonal guidelines to farming communities prior to the onset of the season, Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries presented the following advisory at the Uganda Media Centre today.

Excerpt of Farmers’ Advisory

1.1 The March to May 2020 seasonal rainfall forecast released by the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) on 10th February 2020 indicates good prospects for improved agricultural production across the country.

1.2 It is therefore our duty as a Ministry to provide regular guidance to our farmers.

1.3 The purpose of this message is to advise our farmers and other agricultural practitioners on what should be done during this period. The details are explained as follows:

2.0. Preparations of the gardens for planting annual crops
Farmers who completed harvesting the previous crops are advised to clear, slash and carry out the first ploughing. Second ploughing should be carried out 14 days after the first ploughing for the case of those using tractors.

3.0 Acquisition of inputs (seed/ planting materials, fertilisers, herbicides)

3.1 Farmers are advised to identify the right sources of improved seed for planting annual non vegetative crops.

3.2 The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) developed a tamperproof label for ascertaining the quality of certified seed. Farmers are therefore, advised to look out for seed that bears a MAAIF Tamperproof label which is either blue or green in colour attached to the seed packs.

3.3. Farmers are advised to identify the right sources of improved planting materials for vegetatively propagated crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes.

3.4. Farmers are advised to identify and obtain improved planting materials for perennial crops such as Coffee, Tea, Cocoa, Bananas from MAAIF certified nursery bed operators.

3.5 Farmers are advised to source Fertilisers and herbicides from duly registered agro input dealers and stockists who have well displayed certificates of registration at their premises. Farmers should liaise with the Extension Staff to obtain a list of registered agro input dealers and stockists in their respective areas.

4.0. Planting
After the second ploughing for those using tractors, planting should be done after one week. The planting should follow proper agronomic practices like spacing, line planting, seed rate, initial fertiliser application, as will be advised by the field Extension Officers.

5.0. Crop Management
5.1. Farmers should continuously seek advice from the Extension Officers at the sub counties concerning the care of the crops planted until maturity. The farmers should specifically seek guidance on detection and control of pests and diseases.

5.2. For perennial crops, farmers are advised to carry out the following:
i. Prune the plantations and orchards.
ii. Manage run off water, desilt or construct trenches and stabilise the soil bunds.
iii. Provide support to the crops like bananas and coffee.
iv. Establish wind breakers and plant shade trees for some crops.

6.0. Record keeping
6.1. Farmers are advised to record all their farming activities such as; type, quantities and volumes of inputs acquired, acreage established of various crops, dates of planting, varieties planted, costs involved, for future reference in management of the harvesting, labour, storage, primary processing, marketing activities and planning for the subsequent seasons.

7.0. Handling of food which has been recently harvested and mature crops still in the garden.
As a result of the extended rains of season B of 2019, some farmers have just completed harvesting crops while others may still be having mature crops in the garden. To avoid wastage, quality loss and contamination of food, farmers are advised to carry out the following:

7.1. For Grains like Maize
i. Harvest the maize when it is mature and properly dry, that is when the maize cob is facing downwards.
ii. Use clean, dry harvesting tools and equipment such as Tarpaulins, carts, wheel barrows, bags and baskets.
iii. Prepare clean, dry storage facilities such as stores and cribs to store maize before shelling.
iv. Deliver the harvested maize immediately to a clean and dry facility for temporary storage.
v. Avoid heaping maize after harvesting on bare ground.

7.2. Sorting

Sort out broken, discoloured, moulded or physically damaged grains from good maize.

7.3. Shelling
Avoid shelling maize through beating with sticks because this method damages the grains. Shell Maize using bare hands or appropriate equipment such as Manual Hand shellers or Motorized shellers.

7.4. Drying
i. Avoid drying maize on a bare ground as this will contaminate the grains with soil or dirt and further allow fungal or mould growth.
ii. Dry grains on a clean concrete slab, or use Plastic sheets, tarpaulins, mats and racks or any appropriate drying facility up to a moisture content of 13-14%.
iii. Moisture content can be measured using a simple moisture meter or determined using the salt bottle method as may be advised by extension officers.

7.5. Winnowing

Sort, sieve or winnow maize grains to get rid of foreign matter and broken grains as these may be entry points for microorganisms that can lead to aflatoxins.

7.6. Grading

i. Separate Maize grains according to the size, colour and variety to achieve uniformity for better prices on the market.
ii. Pack or bag the graded maize in clean bags for storage.

7.7. Storage
i. Clean the facility properly before storage.
ii. Protect the grains from rodents, moisture, variations of temperature and humidity.
iii. Put the Bags on pallets (off the ground), one metre away from the walls to avoid rodents, moisture pick up and to allow easy inspection.
iv. Where possible store maize grains in Hermetic bags and air tight metallic Silos.

8.0. Additional emphasis for aflatoxins Management
Aflatoxins are poisons freely living in soils that contaminate grain food if it comes into direct contact with soil. The grains develop moulds that produce dangerous toxins such as Aflatoxins that cause liver cancer in humans and reduces production and productivity of animals.

Farmers and grain actors are hereby advised that before processing and preparing maize for eating, make sure the maize is properly dried, sorted to remove any discoloured, moulded, broken and shriveled grains. Ensure dietary diversification to avoid over dependence on maize consumption. Take a lot of fruits and vegetables. This will minimize the risk and effects of aflatoxin contamination.

9.0. Appeal.
I call upon extension workers, and leaders at various levels to disseminate this message extensively as well as the previous messages on grain post-harvest handling like “The grain post-harvest handling circular” sent to the Chief Administrative Officers in July 2018.

I further appeal to the local government leadership to formulate and enforce appropriate ordinances and bylaws on grain post-harvest handling and food safety.
In light of the unpredictable weather conditions, several advisory messages will be disseminated from time to time.
We need to work together to produce more safe, marketable food and fibre, for a healthy, prosperous and happy nation .

Notes for editors

About the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is a Ministry in the Government of Uganda charged with creating an enabling environment in the Agricultural Sector.

The Ministry formulates, reviews and implement national policies, plans, strategies, regulations and standards and enforce laws, regulations and standards along the value chain of crops, livestock and fisheries.

Vision: A competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector.

Mission: To transform subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.

Strategic Objectives

  • To initiate the formulation and review of the policy and legal framework for the sector
  • To establish and implement systems for service provision in the sector
  • To strengthen and implement strategies, regulatory framework, standards, institutional structures and infrastructure for quality assurance and increased quantities of agricultural products to access and sustain local, regional and export markets
  • To design and implement sustainable capacity building programmes for stakeholders in the agricultural sector through training, re-tooling, infrastructure, provision of logistics and ICT
  • To develop strategies for sustainable food security
  • To develop appropriate agricultural technologies for improved agricultural production, productivity and value addition through research
  • To develop effective collaborative mechanisms with affiliated institutions and
  • To take lead and establish a system and institutional framework for agricultural data collection, analyses, storage and dissemination to stakeholders including Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is made up of four Directorates including the Directorate of Crop Resources, Directorate of Animal Resources, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services and the Directorate of Fisheries Resources each with Departments, Divisions and Partnership Projects.

The Departments of the Ministry which do not fall directly in the above include the Department of Agricultural Planning and Development, the Human Resource Department, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Agricultural Infrastructure, Mechanisation and Water for Agricultural Production.

The Ministry is also made up of seven Agencies including the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Cotton Development Organisation (CDO), Dairy Development Authority (DDA), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and Coordinating Office for the Control of Trypanosomiasis in Uganda (COCTU) and the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC&DB).