07 Feb NARL promotes smallholder mechanization technologies aimed at contributing to increased household income.
Government of Uganda is implementing an agricultural investment project through the international fund for agricultural development (IFAD) in Acholi sub-region called the Project for the Restoration of Livelihoods in the Northern Region (PRELNOR). This project is being implemented by the ministry of local government.
PRELNOR’s development objective is to increase sustainable production, productivity and climate resilience of smallholder farmers with increased and profitable access to domestic and export markets. Maize, rice, beans and cassava are the four main crops prioritized under this project with a focus on Rural Livelihoods & Market Linkages, and Infrastructure components to enable a higher proportion of farm households, who are not yet market-oriented, to achieve levels of production that enable them to take advantage of market opportunities.
The most crucial aspect is to get the productivity of the farms to a level where there is enough surplus crop production that a farmer can sell at the market. Enhanced crop production is expected to be through expansion and intensification of mechanization, better cultural practises and use of quality inputs. Agricultural mechanization for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa has, for long, been a neglected one. It is now clear that mechanization is an essential input to raise labour and land productivity and reduce drudgery. Mechanization can also be used to add value to primary products, produce employment and income potential along the value chain.
NARL’s Bio systems and Agricultural Engineering program is implementing the component of piloting smallholder mechanization. This is being done through promoting Animal Draft Power (ADP), Two-Wheeled Tractors (2WTs) and selected processing technologies suitable to the needs and conditions of smallholder farmers, to contribute to increased production and productivity.
However, the majority of smallholder farmers are still not aware of the value and potential of these technologies in farming due to lack of knowledge & skills, bias/ misconceptions on the use of agro machinery. It was noticed that use of animal traction today is restricted to ploughing only yet it can be used for other farm operations like planting, weeding and transportation. The use of the walking tractor and primary processing equipment to have not been fully embraced by farmers due to lack of knowledge and information. Similarly, the use of walking tractors and primary processing equipment have not been fully embraced by farmers due to lack of awareness and access. One of the initiatives being taken by the research officers at Namalere to boost the use of agro machinery by smallholder farmers is through giving machinery to identified host entrepreneur farmers to do farming as a business. They are trained on the operation of these machineries and provision of hire services at minimal fees to