Agricultural sector on track with delivering on commitments made in the year 2016

Agricultural sector on track with delivering on commitments made in the year 2016

During the Manifesto week of the year 2018, Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Sempijja the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries presented the progress reached by the Ministry in developing the sector since 2016.

Overview of the Sector

As presented by the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the sector is not only among the four key sectors for the creation of employment and wealth but also remains the main building block of the Ugandan economy.

Today, close to 80% of the households in the country are involved in agriculture and going by Financial Year 2016/17 the sector contributed 24.9% of the national GDP and 72.9% of the total national export earnings.

The work done by the Ministry of Agriculture is guided by the Mission of transforming subsistence farming to commercial agriculture and is guided by the Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan, derived from the National Development Plan (NDP2).

To date, Government has delivered the following through the Ministry of Agriculture as committed to in the Manifesto for 2016-2021 under the theme of “Taking Uganda to Modernity through Job-creation and Inclusive Development.”

Extension Services

On the commitment of strengthening Extension Services through a Single Spine Extension Service System, Government embarked on recruitment of Public Agricultural Extension Staff in Local Governments.

As a result of this recruitment, the extension worker to farmer ratio has since been reduced from 1:5000 to about 1:1800 and the number of staff recruited has reached 3,032 extension workers which is 60% of the target.

The target is at least 5000 extension workers across the country.

Availability of critical farm inputs

Another commitment in the Manifesto was to enhance systematic distribution of improved seeds, planting and breeding materials through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) initiatives.

On this, the Ministry through NAADS in collaboration with OWC has procured and distributed inputs to promote the key strategic crops for income generation and export.

As a result, the acreage planted for the perennial crops has increased substantially with tea spanning over 32,000 acres, 171,000 acres for oranges and 176,000 acres for mangoes.

Boosting agricultural exports

In the Manifesto, Government also promised to invest more and increase exports of specific commodities such as Coffee from 3.6 million 60 kilogram bags to 6 million 60 kilogram bags bags; Maize from 185,000 metric tonnes to 1.5 million metric tonnes; tea from 65,000 metric tonnes to 130,000 metric tonnes and Beans from 32,000 metric tonnes to 500,000 metric tonnes.

Prior to this 5-year term, Uganda exported 3,556,692 60 kilogram bags of coffee worth 351,153,000 USD as a country in Financial Year 2015/16.

However, for Financial Year 2016/17, Uganda managed to increase this to 4,186,606 60 kilograms bags worth 490,250,000 USD which is an increase of 14%.

Between July and March this Financial Year 2017/18 the country has already exported 3,521,850 60 kilogram bags 391,590,000 USD, moving towards achieving the national target of 20 million bags by 2025.

Oil palm and oil seed growing

In Kalangala, 10,924 hectares of Oil Palm have been cultivated by organized smallholder farmers supported by a Public Private Producer Partnership between Government, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and private sector players including BIDCO Uganda Limited.

Two Palm Oil Mills constructed on the islands by BIDCO have so far received 92.3 MT of oil palm fresh fruit bunches from the smallholders alone.

By December 2017/18, a total of 1,810 farmers (36% female) were benefitting from the oil palm smallholder scheme with 1,080 farmers already harvesting from 3,021 hectares of mature oil palms and earned UGX 1.2 Bn each month.

The private sector partner, BIDCO is currently producing 27,198 tons of crude palm oil per year and pays Government of Uganda taxes worth UGX 157.4 billion per year.

Government is also supporting 51 districts across the regions of Eastern, Northern, West Nile and Western Uganda to grow sunflower, soybeans, ground nuts and sim sim.

The Ministry has since contracted 11 private extension service providers to provide oil seeds value chain services to the project beneficiaries.

As a result, the production of sunflower, soybeans, ground nuts and sesame has increased across the target area, leading to an increase in mill capacity utilization from 34% in 2015 to 56% in 2018.

Oil seed farmers in Uganda have also realized an increase in the sunflower yield per hectare from 0.9 tons per hectare in 2014 to 1.3 tons per hectare in 2017.

The soybean yield per hectares has also increased from 0.6 tons per hectare in 2014 to 0.9 tons per hectare in 2017. This has increased the incomes of the oil seed farmers per unit area under production.

Livestock sub-sector development

In the Manifesto, Government promised to support companies and individuals in livestock breeding in order to meet the demand for dairy products, beef, poultry and piggery.

Here, the following milestones have been reached through the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC&DB) which is an Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Government is promoting crossing local animals, to F1-50% and F 2-75% which can produce 12 and 18 litres of milk per day respectively. With F1 a farmer with good management gets 1.5 million Uganda shillings per animal per year. Six Cows of 75% dairy crosses bring in more than 20million a year from milk.

NAGRC has also improved the beef animal’s average daily weight gain to 250 grams per day with F1- 50% and this has reduced the market age tremendously from 3 to 4 years to 1 to 1.5 years.

Kuroiler chicken which are disease resistant and fast-growing have been introduced. The Kuroiler lays between 150 to 200 eggs in a year compared to the 40 eggs produced by the indigenous birds.

Cocks weigh between 3-4 kg within four months.

To ensure that Uganda benefits from this, 2, 305,194 kuroilers were distributed to 5,500 households and 40,000 birds have been exported to the regional markets.

Through genetic improvement, NAGRC goats have been improved to reach an average daily weight gain (ADG) of 145g/day compared to 25 – 30 g/day for the indigenous goats. This has resulted in an increase in household income by 67% per goat from sales.

The same Agency (NAGRC&DB) has also introduced early-maturing pigs which can produce at 10 months at an estimated weight of 80-90 kgs live weight compared to the indigenous ones which do so at an average weight of 40-60 Kgs. Breeds such as Comborough can produce over 14 piglets (28 piglets/animal/year) and at market price of 150,000/- and this translates into 4,200,000/= per sow per year for the farmer.

Productivity enhancement

On Government’s commitment to promote use of manure, organic fertilizers, inorganic fertilizers and appropriate irrigation technology to beat climate change challenges, government has done the following.

Government has rolled out an e-voucher subsidy program to promote access to and use of fertilizers by farmers.

Sukulu fertilizer factory is being constructed through a Public Private Partnership and will produce 300,000 tons of fertilizers; 300,000 tons of steel products; 200,000 tons of sulphuric acid; 300,000 tons of gypsum; 100,000 tons of Rare Earth Elements (REE) minerals; and 40,000 tons of Niobium annually.

Makerere University will start testing and advising farmers which type of fertilizer is suitable per crop.

Another commitment by Government was to promote agricultural mechanization.

This would be done through availing machinery for hire at affordable rates for bush clearing, ploughing, harrowing, planting, harvesting and making silage and hay to make it easy for medium and large-scale farming. Government promised the delivery of 40 tractors and implements before the end of Financial Year 2015/2016.

The 40 tractors and implements were delivered in time as committed and were given to organized farmers in 10 district followed by an additional 50 tractors made available in FY 2016/2017.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries procured earth moving equipment including tractors for dry hire to farmers for bush clearing, ploughing or digging up dams and valley tanks.  These have been used to clear bushes and open 11,000 acres of farm land for agricultural production in various parts of the country and to rehabilitate 158 farm access roads (about 420Kms) in fourteen (14) districts country wide.

Government is now set to open regional mechanization centres to increase access to this machinery in various parts of the country.

To this effect the Ministry has recruited 33 Senior Agricultural Engineers in 33 District Local Governments.

Pest and disease control

Government made a commitment to invest in the control of pests and diseases. This also came with another commitment to control and harmonize the levels of pesticides and acaricides that are internationally acceptable.

The Ministry procured one million three hundred thousand (1,300,000) dozes of assorted animal vaccines for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Rabies and CBPP. The Ministry also carried out interventions for the control of the Fall Army Worm and Banana Bacterial Wilt (BBW) in 92 districts across the country.

Trials for a new acaricide (Vectoclor) to deal with resistant ticks was carried out and was 85% successful.

Agricultural Research

The following has been done under the commitment by Government to support research institutions carrying out research in agriculture together with other scientists at universities.

The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has developed two anti-tick vaccines to effectively control blue ear ticks (Boophilus decoloratus) two bio-acaricide formulations to manage the emerging challenge of tick resistance to available acaricides and botanical de-wormers for control of internal (Nematode, Cestode and Trematode worms) and external parasites in ruminants.

A national tick distribution map was also developed to guide tick control programs and initiatives.

An African Swine Fever (AFS) diagnostic kit prototype was also introduced to promote rapid and cheap on-farm detection of ASF.

In addition to that, the research organisation introduced the NARO-Ngu trap which captures 106 flies per day compared to 22 flies trapped by the pyramidal trap.

Government also introduced a green protein feed Supplement for both poultry and fish feeds that replaces the fish ingredient in poultry diets by 16% and enables the farmer to save UGX 100 per kilogram of feed resulting into a total saving of UGX 500 per bird.

NARO also released 32 disease-resistant and nutrition-enhanced varieties to ensure increased production and productivity.

Agricultural finance

As regards Agricultural Finance, Government promised to kick-start the Agricultural Finance Credit scheme that was to be operated through commercial banks with support from Government.

Government is currently implementing this Insurance Agriculture Scheme (UAIS) through the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic development, and it’s a Public Private Partnership between The Government of Uganda and Private sector (Insurance companies).

UGX 5 billion was released as a subsidy for mainly small-scale farmers to promote their interest in the agriculture risk management tool.

The funds are for sensitization and awareness on insurance basics, premium subsidy, data support and fostering lending to the agriculture sector by Financial Institutions.

The uptake of agriculture insurance has increased from 3000 beneficiaries to 65,000 beneficiaries.

Another commitment was to improve the quality of agricultural produce by investing in agricultural marketing infrastructure such as storage facilities and encouraging District Councils to pass by-laws that discourage drying of produce on open grounds.

The Department of Agricultural Investment and Enterprise Development has been supporting Agro Processing and managing pests through customise Post-Harvest Management training, distribution of small farm post-harvest equipment to farmer groups at farm level in Western and Eastern Uganda.

These include 9 rice threshers, 9 maize Shellers and 500 Tarpaullin mats which are 4metres by 6metres in size.

They also include 18 moisture meters, 60 Sieve cleaners, 120 weighing scales, 5,000 standard woven storage bags of 50-kilogram capacity.

Farmers have been mobilised on the importance of forming farmer groups and this has led to the formation of 9 groups which were also trained in post-harvest handling in the districts of Jinja, Iganga, Bugiri, Namutumba and Masindi.

Training has focused on machine operation, group leadership dynamics, business and marketing skills and quality management.

Small farm level Agro Processing equipment like maize shellers, rice threshers and peddlers have been distributed to farmers in the above mentioned regions to enhance productivity as well as manage pest and disease incidence.

Pilot demonstration centres have also been installed with capacity of processing two million tonnes per hour; one for maize in Masindi district and another for rice in Jinja district.

The training has also brought results in delivering Government’s commitment to put in place measures to ensure that Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are domesticated and complied with to attain internationally acceptable standards of the products.

Value addition and agro-processing

On Government’s commitment to invest more in value-addition, the fruit factory in Soroti was completed and there is ongoing work in setup of other value addition factories for products where response from the private sector is not forthcoming.

Dairy sub-sector development

For Dairy: Last year, two milk collection centers with total collection capacity of 8,200 liters of milk were rehabilitated and equipped in Kayunga and Masindi. Over 1000 dairy farmers are already utilizing the 2 milk collection centers.

Government also rehabilitated Soroti milk collection center and Entebbe Dairy Training School aimed at skilling dairy stakeholders in Value addition and quality assurance.

As a result of strategic interventions in the dairy value chain; milk production has increased from 2.08 billion litres in 2015/16 to 2.23 billion litres in 2016/17; representing 6% growth rate.

The value of marketed milk has also increased by 5% from USD 716 million in 2015/16 to USD 752 million (about UGX 2.7 trillion) in 2016/17. Marketed milk stands at 80% of the total production and this is likely to increase even further.

Currently, from July 2017 to March 2018 the dairy exports stand at approximately USD130million.

To increase the production of export grade cattle and meat exports, a modern holding ground (5 square miles in size) with a quarantine station (4 square miles in size) have been constructed at Katonga farm in Kisozi to fatten bulls. These bulls will be supplied to the modern export abattoir in Bombo which is a joint investment between the Ministry and the National Enterprises Cooperation (NEC).

In addition to the above commitments, Government promised to promote cotton growing to sustain the country’s textile industry needs, including supporting the acquisition of ginning equipment by farmer cooperatives so as to increase earnings from cotton by the farmer. Promote cassava production in all parts of the country and seek investors to establish factories for value addition and production of cassava-related products.

During FY 2017/18, a total of Cotton 2,647 Mt of cotton seed, 1,230,700 one-acre units of pesticides, 5,156 litres of herbicides, 481 Mt of fertilizers and 3,040 spray pumps were supplied to about 200,000 households.

Under the tractor hire scheme, a total of 3,197 acres were ploughed for 852 farmers. These interventions resulted in the establishment of an estimated 270,000 acres of cotton which produced 201,841 bales of cotton lint in FY 2017/18.

Over the last two years, cotton production has increased from 151,071 bales of lint in 2016/17 to 201,841 bales in 2017/18. As a result, the contribution of cotton to household incomes has risen from about Sh.136 billion in 2016/17 to Sh. 187 billion in 2017/18. Lint exports have also risen from about US$ 39 million in 2016/17 to US$ 49 million in 2017/18.

Government established the Lint Buffer Stock Fund in 2014/15 to avail raw materials (lint) to local cotton textile manufacturers to support domestic value addition. The Fund procured a total of 3,000 bales in 2016/17 and 11,500 bales in 2017/18 which were supplied to Southern Range Nyanza Ltd and Fine Spinners (U) Ltd.

The two textile mills offer direct employment to over 3,430 people and produce about 570,000 pieces of garments per month and today the country also has six cotton wool manufacturing firms.

These include Mutuuma Commercial Agencies Limited, Nile Surgicot Limited, South Base Agro Industries Limited, Anik Industries (U) Limited, Viva Holdings Limited and Gulf Cotton Limited. These also produce absorbent surgical cotton wool and Mama Kits from locally grown cotton. They employ about 300 people and produce over 700 Mt of surgical cotton wool annually.

Nine oil mills (Nile Agro Industries Ltd, Mutuuma Commercial Agencies, Singo United Investments Ltd, Wamala Growers Cooperative Union Ltd, Ekirya Atabaala General Merchandise Ltd, Kasese Oil Mill Ltd, Pasha Oil Millers, Western Uganda Cotton Company Ltd and Twin Brothers Company Ltd) produce edible oil, cottonseed cake and soap stock from cottonseed.

They employ a total of about 600 people and produce a combine total of over 2,000 Mt of edible oil and approximately 12,000 Mt of cottonseed cake use in animal feeds annually.

Government made a commitment to to create more jobs and increase household incomes for farmers and for Kigezi sub region, the President called for the introduction of tea. The cash crop was introduced in the area and along with this, two tea factories have so far been set up through Public Private Partnership in Kabale and Kisoro. These are areas which previously did not have any perennial crop being growing commercially by farmers. The factories were set up to not only provide market for the leaves but also create jobs and thereby increase household incomes as guided by the theme of the National Development Plan (NDP2) of “Strengthening Uganda’s Competitiveness for Sustainable. Wealth Creation, Employment and Inclusive Growth.”

Government made a commitment to invest in water for production infrastructure to boost commercial agriculture and industrial activities. Here, the emphasis was to be placed on construction of large and small-scale water schemes for irrigation, livestock and rural industries.

Another target here was to increase cumulative storage from 27.8 to 55 million cubic metres by 2019/20.

Government has commissioned the construction of five irrigation schemes covering a total 4,038 hectares at Doho II in Butaleja; Mubuku II in Kasese; Wadelai in Nebbi District; Torchi in Oyam District and Ngenge in Kween District. The schemes are expected to be completed by June 2019.

Detailed engineering designs have been completed for irrigation schemes in Sironko/ Acomai in Bukedea, and Bulambuli Districts, Atari in Kween/ Bulambuli District, and Namatala in Budaka/ Mbale/ Butaleja District to cover a total of 5,590 hectares. The Ministry has also constructed and rehabilitated 155 valley Tanks.

Government has constructed two of these in Northern region, 75 in the Eastern region, 20 in the Western and 58 in the Southern region of the country.

The total capacity of these currently stands at 8,000,000 cubic meters in the drought and cattle corridor districts countrywide.