End importation of hybrid sunflower seeds from Europe and South America

The National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) through the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) has made strides in sunflower research as it hopes to help the country end the importation of hybrid sunflower seeds from Europe and South America.

Currently, most of the hybrid sunflower seed consumed by commercial farmers for planting purposes comes from France, Argentina, and some from South Africa, but Doctor Walter Anyang, a sunflower scientist at NaSARRI in Serere said that their research on both hybrid and open-pollinated varieties (OPV) has yielded better results, and this will lessen the burden farmers go through in acquiring expensive hybrid seed from overseas.

Doctor Walter Anyang said the Sunfola variety which is one of the institute’s latest seeds though open-pollinated variety has brought better prospects to farmers this season, despite the lesser rains the country has undergone through.

He said the other hybrid varieties in the last line of research being released to commercial farmers are Sunsan 1H and Sunsan 2H with prospects of giving 1600 -1800 kilograms per hectare when properly managed under good agronomic practices.

Mr. Anyang said all these products have been researched at NaSARRI, and have been proven to offer better prospects to farmers for the next 5 years to come, as they continue to make research on other 30 hybrid varieties in Serere which are at the infancy lines of scientific research.

“The important thing we want as a research station to break is the monopoly of importation of hybrid seed, which seed is too expensive for farmers, once we have a continuous chain of releases of our own researched hybrid seeds, then sunflower production can be boosted at less cost,” the scientist explained.

Mr. Anyang said the Sunfola which has been rolled out has proven to be drought tolerant, adding that despite the drug which has dealt a blow to many farmers, those who planted the Sunfola seed which was researched at NaSARRI, are not suffering any loss, the harvest is 90% normal with even much bigger sunflower heads.

He added that the Sunfola seed which takes 90 days to mature, in well-drained but fertile soils offers over 1500 kilograms of sunflower seed per hectare, adding that under a favorable market, that translates to over Shs 1.5M.

“Its oil content is extremely better, with every one bag of Sunfola seed is able to earn one 20 liters of cooking oil,” Mr. Anyang said.

Better about sunflower growing, Doctor Anyang says, one can blend it with an apiary within the farm, and that is free money.

Mr. Anyang said the current oil crisis in the country because of the disruptions in the supply chain across the globe wouldn’t be affecting Uganda, if our sunflower industry was strong, adding as scientists they have lessons to take from these global disruptions.

Mr. Joshua Kiiza, a pioneer farmer with 16 hectares of Sunfola seed sunflower, said he expects over 25,000 Kilograms in harvest, despite having gone through the drought.

“Each sunflower plant in my farm almost has a head bigger than that of my wife and mine when combined,” the Apolin village-based farmer, Bugondo sub-county, Serere district said.

Mr. Kiiza said this sunflower started maturing at 85 days, which is delaying me to start harvesting. I don’t have enough tarpaulins. He said the other previous varieties were not as high-yielding as it is for the Sunfola.

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