Agriculture Minister Asks Farmers To Embrace Organic Farming

By our Reporter.

The Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Minister, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja has encouraged more farmers to embrace Organic Farming practices in order to improve food safety and gin access to International markets.

According to Ssempijja, the newly approved organic agriculture Policy tasks extension workers to identify and register farmers interested in organic agriculture for training, certification and assistance.

Speaking at a dialogue to promote Agro ecological farming in Kampala on Sunday morning, the Minister said the policy encourages research in various areas of organic enterprises including fisheries and animal husbandry with the aim of getting Uganda listed among those producing organic food products.

The Uganda Organic Agriculture Policy prohibits the use of synthetic inputs such as drugs, fertilizers and pesticides in farming. It encourages farmers to utilize manures composted in their farms to increase plant nutrients in the soil.

In fighting pests, the Uganda Organic Agriculture Policy stipulates that farmers use plant combinations technically known as bio-rational to dispel pests and disease causing agents from their crops fields.

Godfrey Bwogi, an Agricultural Scientist at Uganda Martyrs University is attempting to promote Organic farming techniques among small holder banana farmers in the Lake Victoria crescent where the food feeding more than 70 Million people around the world faces high incidents of Banana Wilt, Banana Weevils and Nematodes attacks.

Bwogi says the Banana pests and diseases have significantly reduced the yields in Kyotera, Masaka, Mpigi and Mukono districts where he is working.

He says lack of adequate supply of animal manure is worsening the situation and call for urgent introduction of other safe measures to control the decline in production of the crop with huge cultural value in the area.

Bwogi is working with banana farmers in the area to inter-crop their bananas with wild plants or other plants known to have active ingredients, which are harmful to pests and banana diseases.

The technique of inter cropping plants is technically known as bio-rational among agricultural scientists. Bwogi says when integrated with on the farm techniques such as mixing ash with sand, manure and other animal waste, pests and diseases are kept at bay without hurting soil organisms necessary for healthy plant growths.

Currently, there are only 229,000 farmers accredited to produce organic products in the country.

The farmers are being coordinated by the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU).  Inorganic chemicals are known for killing soil organisms which are essential in soil formation and renewing soil fertility through fixing plant nutrients nitrogen and oxygen as well as water percolation into the soil.

As farmers kill weed and pests using inorganic pesticides, the soil organisms are killed along, significantly reducing crop productions.

Bwogi says as the number of consumers demanding organic products increases around the world in the wake of cancer; government should encourage researchers to innovate for farmers to increase their productivity.

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