We have all perhaps read about the quite successful Daily Monitor Farm Clinic organized at Mbarara Zonal Agricultural and Research Development Institute (MBAZARDI) which reportedly attracted over one thousand goers last week.
It was an opportunity for farmers and other stakeholders from across the region to learn about new farming technologies and to find solutions to the various agricultural challenges that many farmers face.
The big event was also, no doubt, an opportunity for comparing notes among farmers about some agricultural huddles experienced by all farmers across the country, such as the high cost of inputs like pesticides, herbicides and acaricides as well as incurable crop diseases and the onset of climate change that has resulted in frequent droughts and extreme weather conditions.
According to the Daily Monitor, the Director General of the National Agriculture and Research Organization (NARO) Dr Ambrose Agona said, “We want to see changes in farming systems. We are talking about feeding a fastest growing population. When these agriculture enterprises are sick you are also sick nutritionally and economically.”
Another speaker urged farmers to shift from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture and use machines like tractors as a way to improve food production for a fast growing population.
Improving agricultural production might turn out to be a mirage however if we ignore research on crops to make them more productive and resistant to disease and tolerant to drought.
When the crops are sick tractors and modern farming practices alone will not help. As Agona said, when agriculture enterprises are sick the nation becomes sick nutritionally and economically.
Last week agriculture journalists from a number of media houses paid a visit to the National Crops Resources Research Institute, (NaCRRI) Namulonge where Dr Henry Wagaba, head of the Molecular Lab took them around the different biotechnology research laboratories mainly working on the Cassava Brown Streak Disease and the Cassava Mosaic Disease.
He disclosed that although important achievements have been made in fighting the crop diseases the farmers cannot begin growing the disease resistant varieties because of the long delay to have the Biotechnology and Bio-safety Law.