Farmers in Kigorobya Sub-county, Hoima District have decried the lack of access to agricultural extension services saying it has made it difficult for them to gain knowledge how to deal with crop and animal diseases for improved methods of farming.
Ms Yeyeri Kwecandya, a farmer from Karungu village revealed during a joint animal-plant farm clinic at Karungu that it disturbs when her cassava crop outwardly looks healthy but upon harvest only to find a swollen stem without any tubers.
“You can uproot 10 cassava trees and fail to get even cassava for one meal of three people. But when you look at the cassava tree in the garden, it looks healthy and green yet there is no any tuber down. We don’t have technocrats to assist us to know where the problem lies and how to deal with it,” she said.
Ms Kwecandya said such a phenomenon has resulted in food insecurity at household level since cassava is known to be among the few famine absorber crops in Hoima district.
Mr Pascal Tinkamanyire, a farmer from Malinga village said he is currently realising low yields from his crops due to disease attacks on maize, coffee, cassava and bananas in his garden.
Into the bargain, he also said he loses his animals to diseases since he cannot access extension workers’ services to provide advice on how to treat them.
“We don’t get experts to teach us how we can treat our animals when attacked by diseases and we don’t know the kind of drugs we can administer to them for certain diseases.” Mr Tinkamanyire said.
Responding to the farmers’ outcry, Mr Stephen Kibego, the Kigorobya Sub-county Agriculture Supervisor, attributed the limited farmer access to agricultural services to some missing gaps in the transport system and poor road infrastructure deep to farmers locations.
He admitted that there is an outbreak of crop diseases that he said some do not have any drugs to check them.
The agriculturalist advised the farmers to root out and burn any affected crops to stop the spread of diseases.
‘We are trying to battle crop diseases like cassava soft root, cassava brown streak and banana bacteria wilt. There are no drugs for these diseases. I advise and appeal to farmers to always pull up and burn these crops once they see them bearing any signs of these diseases to avoid the spread. Farmers should also be choosy while getting seeds to plant to another garden to also avoid spreading diseases to healthy crops,” Mr Kibego advised.
Dr Patrick Ndorwa, the Hoima District Veterinary Officer, attributed farmers’ limited access to extension services to understaffing rendering it hard for the few technocrats to move to every part of the district.
To grab some assistance and knowledge about crop and animal diseases and treatment, the veterinarian advised farmers to always embrace and attend joint animal-plant farm clinics as scheduled by the district in their respective areas.
“Joint animal-plant farm clinics is the only way to go since they help us [technocrats] to reach out to various farmers within a short time. At such clinics, there’s cross learning from farmers and experts and when we get a case, we try to handle it together as a team,” Dr Ndorwa said.
The Hoima District Local Government Chairman, Mr Kadir Kirungi, regretted that farmers do not get technical assistance from agriculture extension workers; pledging to handle the matter with other district authorities to ensure that service is delivered to them.
However, he was dismayed by the low farmer turn up at the farm clinic.
“It is quite unfortunate that extension workers are not on ground to assist farmers and we shall get to the bottom line of the matter to ensure that it is solved. However, I request farmers to always attend farm clinics so that we can have joint efforts to fight certain diseases affecting our agricultural production. We need to fight these diseases for better agricultural production and tap from our and gas.” Said Mr Kirungi.
The chairman said joint animal-plant clinics will continue being rolled out to all sub-counties in the district with experts providing technical services to farmers.