In August 2022, Government directed NARO to cultivate 10,000 acres of seed for selected crops as a strategic intervention to scale-up food and feed production in the country. NaCRRI is one of the seven NARO institutes that were earmarked to contribute to this intervention. The Institute was tasked to produce certified and early generation seed for maize and beans.
Initiating activities during the 2022B planting season, NaCRRI set out on a journey in Namulonge and Kiige in Kamuli District. “Our target was to cultivate 100 acres of maize seed, and 500 acres of Bean seed,” said Dr. Godfrey Asea, the Director NaCRRI.
Producing breeder, foundation and certified seed for OPV and hybrids, scientists prioritized selected varieties i.e., Longe 5 and UH5051 for maize and NABE 17, NABE 15, NABE 4, NAROBEAN 1 and NAROBEN 3 for beans.
As of end of March 2023, the above efforts had delivered 65% on target for beans and 93% on target for maize. “Altogether, we harvested 47,179kgs of maize seed and 2,211kgs of beans seed which we have handed over to NARO Holdings Limited for further processing, packaging and marketing,” revealed NaCRRI’s Farm Manager-Jude Abitegeka.
However, seasonal activities were affected by a few challenges which somewhat affected projected production. “For example, the season was marred with unreliable rainfall interfering with normal growth of the crops especially at critical stages of establishment and inadequate infrastructure to handle some field and post-harvest handling activities,” Abitegeka added.
In the run-up-to these activities, in August 2022 the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) secured Cabinet approval of proposals for strategic interventions to boost food and animal feed security in the country. The plan was to involve Government Agencies and selected commercial farmers in production of selected food security crops including maize, beans, soybean and sorghum. This was in response to the food and feed shortages in the country at the time.
“Aware that this shortage was likely to lead to shortages of planting materials in the subsequent planting seasons, the Government directed NARO to increase seed of the selected commodities,” reads in part a directive sent to eleven Institutes from Dr. Agona Ambroze-the Director General NARO.
In the new planting season 2023A, NaCRRI is planning to plant 50 acres of beans and 292 acres of maize seed to cover the quantities apportioned to her on this intervention.