KAMPALA: The National Animal Genetics Resources Centre and DataBank (NAGRC&DB) has embarked on large scale growing of maize and soybean across its farms and ranches nationwide in a bid to boost food and animal feed security in the country.
NAGRC&DB is responding to Cabinet’s adoption of a paper by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, on strategic interventions to boost food security in the country.
According to Dr Peter Beine, the executive director of NAGRC&DB, they have so far planted about 12 square miles of corn and soya bean across their nine ranches spread across the country. Of these, 5,646 acres are of maize grain, 1,329 acres of maize silage, while 600 acres are of soybean.
At the 10,000-acre Aswa Ranch in Pader District, 480 hectares (7 square miles) of land have been cleared and 1,920 (3 square miles) planted with soybean and maize. At the Maruzi ranch in Apac District, Lango Sub-region, 812 acres (1.3 sq. miles) of land have been cleared and 450 acres (0.7 sq. miles) planted with maize and at Kasolwe stock farm, 300 acres (0.47 sq. miles) of bush land have been cleared and 650 acres (1.02 sq. miles) planted with maize.
Others are; Lusenke stock farm where 912 acres (1.43 sq. miles) of bush land have been cleared and 645 acres (1 sq. miles) planted with maize; Ruhengyere field station where 310 acres (0.49 sq. miles) of bushland have been cleared, and 640 acres (1 sq. mile) planted with maize; and Sanga field station, where 160 acres (0.25 sq. miles) have been cleared and planted with maize.
At Nshaara ranch, 1,283 acres (2 sq. miles) have been planted with maize while another 2,080 acres (3.3 sq. miles) have been cleared for second ploughing.
At Rubona stock farm, 160 acres (0.25 sq. miles) have been cleared for second ploughing while 227 acres (0.35 sq. miles) have been planted with maize. At Gwot Apwoy ranch, 1,380 acres (2.2 sq. miles) have been cleared for second ploughing while 1,600 acres (2.5 sq. miles) have been planted.
The work entails bush clearing, primary tillage, Row planting and fertiliser application, Weeding/inter-row cultivation, Pesticide and herbicide application, Harvesting and Post-harvest handling
From this, they expect 11,292 metric tonnes of maize, 13,290 metric tonnes of silage, and 360 metric tonnes of soybean.
Dr Beine says in the short term, they are making corn silage and packaging in laminated sacs for sale and dry season feeding at the farms and ranches.
“About 290,000 fifty kg bags are to be sold at a farm gate price of UGX 25,000, yielding a total of UGX 7,247,500,000,” he says.
Dr Beine also says they are doing drying and storage of 3,000 metric tonnes (MT) of maize in the grain storage facilities at Kasolwe stock farm for grain (1,500MT) and manufacture of compounded animal feeds (1,500MT)
They are also doing drying and storage of 288 metric tonnes of soya bean in the animal feed production plant warehouse at Kasolwe stock farm for manufacture of compounded animal feeds
In the long term, Dr Beine says they plan on establishment of two 10,000-metric tonnes capacity grain storage facilities with attendant animal feed processing equipment at each of the participating nine (9) NAGRC&DB farms and ranches to serve the different regions.
The other is establishment of one high capacity (6250m3) reinforced concrete silage banker at each of the nine NAGRC&DB farms and ranches as well as establishment of pressurised farm water irrigation systems to support all-year round production.
He also says they plan to acquire high-value mechanised agricultural production support machinery and equipment to support bush clearing, road construction, tillage, spraying, planting, inter-row cultivation, weeding, and thinning.
Despite these achievements, Dr Beine 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 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 have 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 for expenditure on establishment of pressurised farm water irrigation systems.
Dr Beine says they are also impacted by large scale infestation by the fall army worms 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, Dr Beine says a Solar powered ground water 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 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 on-going.
Dr Beine says engagement of Uganda Wildlife Authority to facilitate 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 on-going.
Deployment of day and night guard services to protect the maize and soya bean gardens from wild game and trespassers.
However, Dr Beine says it is important that government avails funds for irrigation, post-harvest and storage facilities and also invest in animal feed processing plants on government ranches so that NAGRC can fulfil its role of providing breeding livestock for the success of the Parish Development Model (PDM).
The PDM aims to lift the 39% of Uganda’s population from the subsistence to money economy and has seven pillars of; Production, Storage, Processing and Marketing; Infrastructure and Economic Services; Financial Inclusion; Social Services; Mindset change; Parish Based Management Information System; and Governance and Administration.
In these pillars, NAGRC supports Production, Storage, Processing and Marketing.