Farmers, Stakeholders Discuss Grains Sector at Agribusiness Expo
By Joseph Kato
More than 10,000 grain farmers, exhibitors and processors participated in an agribusiness expo, which was held at Kihonda Demonstration Farm in Masindi District at the weekend.
The expo, which was organised by East Africa Grain Council (EAGC) brought together stakeholders in the grain sector from different parts of Uganda and neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, South Sudan and Kenya.
In his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture Vincent Ssempijja advised smallholder farmers to avoid growing cereals or grains that are not profitable for small acreage.
In addition, farmers were advised to also engage in other enterprises in mushroom and vegetable growing, dairy farming and piggery, which do not require huge chunks of land.
Also during the expo, the farmers were trained on good agriculture practices to increase output and quality of their produce.
Several seed companies showcased the latest grain seed varieties on market such as groundnuts, sorghum, soya bean and simsim.
During the two-day event, the grain farmers, processors and traders–under their umbrella body EAGC–called for joint action on counterfeit inputs/fake seeds and unscruplous dealers.
They said it was time regional governments acted on them to save farmers from losses incurred.
Streamline seed trade
Emmanuel Taban, the EAGC country representative in South Sudan, said East African governments should introduce regional certificates to seed dealers to reduce seed duplication to help streamline seed trade in the region.
On his part, Bernard Otim, the EAGC board chairman, backed the idea of having a common regional policy regulating seed transactions.
“We are aware that agriculture is the main source of income for people in the region. When they incur losses through poor seed transactions, it is our region sinking in chronic poverty,” he said.
Dodah Okwang, a research technician at National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute, Serere, pointed out the aspect of seed duplication vis-a-vis overwhelming demand for seed. The situation is a priority issue for stakeholders.
Therefore, there is a need for consistent inspection of seed producers and traders; some of who have used the high demand for seed to disadvantage farmers. It is an issue that needs combined regional effort.