The crop-farming subsector employs more than 60 per cent of Ugandans. However, the move from subsistence to commercial crop-farming has been greatly hampered by poor yields as a result of planting seeds that are not nutritious as well as misinformation.
To stem the situation, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), through the Uganda Multisectoral Food Security and Nutrition Project (UMFSNP) has disseminated the new annual activity calendar for growing nutritious crops, particularly beans and potatoes. The cropping calendar will help farmers plan better for their production and eventually increase production and productivity. The target is also to improve the levels of consumption of nutritious foods as a way of reducing malnutrition.
The calendar is being implemented in 22 pilot districts that share the same weather patterns. They include Bushenyi, Maracha, Namutumba, Nebbi, and Ntungamo. Others are Arua, Bugiri, Iganga, Isingiro, Kabale, Kabarole, Kasese, Kiryandongo, Kyenjojo and Yumbe, among others.
UMFSNP’s annual cropping and activity schedule for iron-rich beans advises that the month of February should be earmarked for site and land preparation as well as selection of well-drained and fertile soils.
According to Julius Twinamasiko, the UMFSNP Project Coordinator, February is the time to plough the land before planting in order to expose the debris to the sun. “Planting is best suited between March to May while weeding would take place between April and June, a month into the time a farmer planted the beans,” he says.
However, Twinamasiko emphasises that the cropping calendar is based on rain-fed agriculture and may vary from region to region and due to climate change.“In future, we plan to roll this information calendar countrywide after assessing the outcomes from the 22 districts,” he says. “This information will help farmers increase their production and productivity of the concerned crop. This means there is going to be a reduction in malnutrition.”