Agricultural experts have advised government and its agencies to stop “dumping” innovations and technologies geared towards improving the sector, onto rural farmers.
The experts who formed part of the farmers’ field day visit organized by Makerere University School of Agricultural Sciences and Excel Hort Consult, an agribusiness incubation hub in Mbarara, over the weekend noted that besides farmers still facing numerous challenges which include climate change, poor seed varieties, it has been difficult for them to adapt new innovations and technologies because these are just dumped at them.
“You can’t just tell a farmer to abandon his way of doing things without evidence and practically showing why. If you are bringing to them a new seed variety, practically compare the two seeds (traditional and new seed) in the field right from planting to harvesting. Here the farmer will get convinced on the right seed,” said Mr Roland Ainomugisha from Makerere University School of Agricultural sciences.
He added when new technologies and inputs are thrown at farmers, they lack conviction to accept.
“Researchers and government agencies seem to be busy for farmers; they collect data, do their analysis and then just dump the results at farmers. Who are you collecting this data for? Why not involve farmers in your attempts to look for solutions that affect them at the beginning up to the end,” said Professor Alex Ariho of Excel Hort Consult.
Mr Anthony Kwehangana of Uganda Industrial Research Institute said government and its agencies need to have innovation and technology centers close to farmers, noting this inculcates a sense of ownership and adaptation to new technologies and innovations.
Mr Asaph Mugizi, the chairperson Uganda Banana Farmers Cooperative Union said there is a big gap between innovators, researchers and farmers which makes farmers reluctant to adapt to technologies they bring in.
“That’s why a new crop variety is introduced and is met with a lot of speculations and falsehood resulting to either resistance or reluctance in adapting to it. We need to move with these researchers and innovators but not just dumping their results to us,” Mr Mugizi.
During the farmer field day visit, farmers got an opportunity to interact with researchers and experts in agriculture in fields of seed quality, value addition, post-harvest handling, pests and disease control, climate smart agriculture, water harvesting and management, green house and irrigation farming among others.
Professor Ariho said they chose to occasionally organize these visits to enable farmers interact with researchers, innovators and experts in agriculture with the view that this can improve the agricultural sector.