Farmers demand application of biotechnology

Farmers demand application of biotechnology

David Mafabi

Sironko- Following the impact of unpredictable climate on crops in Karamoja sub-region, farmers in Sironko have demanded the application of biotechnology to boost agricultural productivity. Farmers who had visited Buginyanya Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute said on 18 September that the agriculture sector in Uganda is facing unpredictable weather pattern that cause droughts, floods and pest infestation, which affect crops productivity.
“The use of such technology is necessary to overcome such agriculture problem. Biotechnology is one of the innovation that is able to overcome the climate change effect,” said Mr Charles Walayo, a coffee farmer in Bumasobo.

Mr Peter Wobibi, who is pioneering the apple growing under Buginyanya Apple Growers’ Association, said the biggest problem in Uganda is tradition verses modernity.

“Most people prefer using traditional methods of farming which can not help overcome the agricultural problems of climate change but we feel as farmers that the new innovations and biotechnology could be the best way to go in order to imrove productivity to feed the big population,” said Mr Wobibi.

According to the Director Buginyanya Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Centre, Dr William Wogoire, house hold poverty in Bugisu and Sebei sub-regions is due to over reliance on coffee as the only traditional cash crop without alternative crops as substitutes for income generation whenever coffee prices slump.

Dr Wogoire estimates that with introduction of biotechnology and other crops like apple plant, properly maintained, could produce between 300 – 400 fruits at one harvest, which would earn a rural farmer between Shs240,000 to Shs300,000, a price that is way above that of coffee harvest in a year.

He revealed that although there have been numerous inventions and research from universities and government agricultural institutions that can be applied in the agriculture sector to improve productivity, it needs the government regulation to pass the permit for the application of such biotechnology.

“Farmers are really expecting that biotechnology can be applied in their farmes to boost crop production and this can this can be applied to produce plants that are resistant to drought, flood and particular pests as well as can be grown on peat land or on tidal land to feed the big populations,” said Dr Wogoire.
Dr Wogoire said that the nutrient content and the harvest period can be designed and improved to cut down the use of pesticide.
“The land efficiency and cultivation may also contribute positively to the environment and reducing the green house effect which is also affecting climate in World today and if biotechnology is applied by farmers in Uganda, it will be able to achieve its food self-sufficiency and survive from global crisis,” said Mr Wogoire.
He added that the application of biotechnology should not disregard the biosecurity and food safety and that new genetically engineered varieties can only be applied if such products are biologically safe for human consumption.

Bugizardi centre is one of the nine Zonal Agricultural Development and Research centres created by government under National Agricultural Research [Act, 2005 to generate research and develop agricultural technologies which are suitable for the zone for improving farming systems for high production.

According to Dr Wogoire the institute, formerly a centre of excellency, for Arabica coffee, in the new arrangement under the Zonal Agricutural development and Research has also introduced besides Apples, Irish potatoes, short term but high yielding cassava and beans.

He said research has already been done in the highland areas and has found it has been discovered that Winter Banana, Golden Doset, Badskop, Jonathan and Gloster apple varieties could do well in these areas once the farming technologies are properly followed. Ends

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