In a bid to lure Ugandans into commercial farming, President Museveni a couple of years back started four demonstration farms across the country.
Results from this initiative show that the farms are changing Ugandans attitude on agriculture.
In our first part in these series we focus on Kityerere presidential demo farm in Mayuge district and how it has impacted on farmers in the area.
Yusuf Kasada was once a renown sugar cane farmer in Kityerera Mayuge district.
In 2017, when President Museveni set up a demonstration farm next to his plantation, he was shocked by the kind of crops that were introduced at the farm.
To him this area was best known for sugar cane growing given the type of soils and the hot temperatures. He quietly observed the crops germinate, he then talked to the farm manager on how he could introduce the same crops at his farm.
He started off with a banana plantation and pineapples.
Kityerera presidential demo farm which is now a home to crops like coffee, pineapples, bananas, oranges and mangoes , is aimed at introducing farmers in the region to the growing of food crops for commercial purposes on a small scale.
Charles Kiwuuwa, President Museveni’s private secretary on Agriculture agrees that this region is very dry and for a farmer to succeed good farming practices like ring mulching and drip irrigation commonly known as bottle irrigation should be introduced especially at the start.
He explained that the two methods help in water retention and the crops germinate faster and can withstand the hot temperatures.
“This coffee plantation was set up in the dry season, but we used bottle irrigation that was commissioned by president Museveni in 2016 to keep the soils moist, even when the area was affected by drought our coffee didn’t dry up, we also dug up trenches to control soil erosion,” he said.
Kityerera village is generally a dry area, for one’s farm to flourish here, good farming practices ought to be introduced.
Kasada who now hopes to earn over 20 million annually from his new farm, called upon fellow farmers to pick a leaf.
“I am glad the team at the president’s farm gave me free seedlings. My plan is to introduce poultry and cattle in the near future. These will help me with manure for my garden,” he said.
Kityerera presidential demonstration farm is now a home to pineapples, coffee, bananas, oranges and mangoes , it also has poultry and live stock which provide manure to the plantations.
Kiwuuwa advised farmers to plant pasture in their farms, he says this will be used to prepare hay for animals to feed on during the dry season and can also be used in mulching the banana and coffee plantations.
His advice to commercial farmers is to opt for grafted fruits instead of the traditional ones
“Varieties that are grafted mature in a shorter time and are big enough, which makes them good for juice and commercially viable,” he said.
The location of this farm holds great memories for President Museveni.
During the liberation struggle, the NRA had a base here.