Nation Media Group, through its renowned brand Daily Monitor, in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) conducted the 31st Edition of the Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic.
Under the theme “Climate Smart Farming”, the Farm Clinic focused on the importance of Sustainable farming methods in the face of changing weather patterns.
Hosted by Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MbaZARDI) on Saturday 27th May, the event drew the participation of farmers and other stakeholders from the 12 districts under the institute mandate. These were engaged in training with valuable insights.
It is worth noting that entrance to the event is free of charge and so farmers have open access to all the training in addition to the information materials.
In his remarks, The City Resident Commissioner of Mbarara, Lt Col. James Mwesigye, the guest of honor, applauded NARO for fighting poverty through the provision of cutting-edge technologies to farmers.
He was particularly impressed by the fact that the biggest percentage of the 400 farmers who had turned up for the training were youth.
He, in the same line, encouraged all farmers who turned up for the farm clinic to embrace the latest technologies and put the knowledge and skills they have acquired to good use if they are to transform their lives.
The director of Research, Mbarara ZARDI, Dr. Halid Kirunda also addressed the audience and highlighted among other things all services and ongoing research activities at the institute.
These included research on improving dairy feeding, anti-tick vaccine trials, herbal acaricides, availability of specialized animal feeds for sale, an enzyme used to extract juice from bananas, value addition to bananas through winemaking, evaluating genetically modified banana varieties that are rich in vitamin A, fortifying banana flour to improve nutrition content, an adaptation of over nine coffee varieties, cross-breeding of goats (Mubende and Boer goat) to mention a few.
Dr. Imelda Kashaija who also represented the Deputy Director General in charge of Technology Promotion – Dr. Sadik Kassim, encouraged farmers to be mindful and pay close attention to the soil, post-harvest handling practices, value addition methods, and plant varieties they grow. “You can learn all this and much more from practical lessons offered by NARO not only during the farm clinics but also on other days” she added.
All speakers expressed their heartfelt appreciation and gratitude towards Nation Media for the consistency and commitment they have exhibited over the years since the farm clinic was birthed. Sponsors were also appreciated for believing in and sharing in the vision of the initiative.
The farm clinic focused on Dairy, Coffee, Passion fruits, Goats, and bananas. For each of the selected commodities, Areas of training included good agronomic practices, how to identify and manage common pests and diseases, and recommended post-harvest handling practices to mention a few.
Training also highlighted sustainable irrigation methods, crop diversification, soil health management, and the effective use of agricultural technologies.
Practical sessions were held at the various demo sites in addition to availing planting materials to farmers at a modest fee.
Participants had an opportunity to engage with the experts directly with demonstrated learning, in addition to exhibitors who showcased innovative agricultural products, services, and technologies which further enhanced farmers’ understanding and provided practical and timely solutions/feedback to farmers.
While the event was organized by Nation Media in collaboration with NARO, it was largely sponsored by the Bank of Uganda, Stanbic Bank, NSSF, Bulemezi Agro-Vet Ltd, and Zoetis. A total of five farm clinics are slated to happen this year in five districts of Mbarara, Arua, Mukono, Serere, and Hoima. All these will be hosted by NARO institutes including AbiZARDI, NaCORI, NaSARRI, and BulindiZARDI respectively which are located in the selected districts.