By Isaac Tugume Nyabingi
The National Agricultural Advisory Services, popularly known as NAADS, is a government program that was introduced in 2001 by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, to help rural Ugandans fight poverty and to improve rural livelihoods by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability
Several years down the road his words have come to pass after many Ugandans who got involved in the several projects NAADS has to offer have benefited and are currently harvesting money.
Dr. Samuel Mugasi, the executive director NAADS, has steered the parastatal in the right direction ever since he took over the office and so far millions of Ugandans across the country are engaging is various agricultural projects from which they earn income that has changed their lives.
Through NAADS, farmers engage in agricultural projects like tea farming, coffee plantation, banana farming, fruit farming, fish farming, and dairy farming, among other.
Here below is a list of Ugandans who are benefitting from NAADS projects which have helped them to fight poverty through wealth creation;
Godfrey And Shakira Kaganda-Banana Farmers
These are banana farmers in Harugongo in Kabarole district. With support from Government through NAADS, the couple established a 100 acre banana plantation from which they harvest 1,000 bunches every month. H.E President Yoweri Museveni commended the farmers during the Rwenzori investment Expo that took place in Fort Portal recently, where they exhibited some of the produce from their banana plantation.
Since 2014, NAADS has distributed over 4.5 million banana tissue cultured planting materials to farmers establishing over 10,000 additional acres of banana across the country.
Banana is one of the major crops prioritized by Government to promote food security & increase household incomes
Mpumwire Zedekiah –Mango Grower
Mzee Mpumwire, aged 73, a resident of Kazo Town Council, in Kazo district, is harvesting money from mangoes and dairy farming in western Uganda.
He received 120 mango seedlings from NAADS and is a beneficiary of a tractor from NAADS which he uses for pasture multiplication together with other group members.
Ruhweza Jimmy- Poultry Farmer
He is a resident of Bulyanyenje, in Fort Portal, Kabarole district, who received 800 layers from NAADS in June 2019 and currently collects 22 trays of eggs per day, selling each tray at 10,000.
Harriet Namugolo-Pineapple Farmer
She is a 57-year-old housewife who turned into a pineapple commercial farmer and is not regretting her decision.
In 2015, Namugolo, a resident of Katikamu village in Busaale Parish, Kayunga Sub-County in Kayunga district, got a tip-off from a friend about the possibility of acquiring pineapple suckers from NAADS to engage in pineapple commercial farming.
She started with 10,000 pineapple suckers from NAADS which she planted on one acre.
Following the good yield and a good income, Namugolo enlarged her pineapple farm and today she is harvesting money from 5 acres of pineapple with plans to expand to 20 acres in the near future.
Namugolo is one of the many pineapple farmers that have benefited from the over 2 million pineapple suckers that NAADS has distributed in Kayunga district, to boost the production of pineapple in the area for improved household incomes and wealth creation.
Namugolo’s biggest challenge is the unstable market and paltry price of pineapple especially during the peak season with middlemen cheating the farmers.
“During the peak season the price of pineapple drops as low as shs.700 each which affects my profit margin”, explained Namugolo.
However, officials at NAADS reveal that Namugolo’s woes, just like those of other farmers, are soon to end following a partnership between the Government of Uganda, through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and the private sector, to construct a Pineapple juice factory to add value to the pineapple produced in the region.
Actually the Pineapple juice factory has since been constructed and will be commissioned soon.
Indeed in December 2019,NAADS Officials led by Chairman Board of Directors Robert Kibirango, inspected the ongoing construction works of Kayunga Pineapple Factory in Kayunga district.
Government through NAADS has so far invested Shs780m in the construction of the factory which is expected to be commissioned in April 2020. The factory is to add value to the pineapples grown in Kayunga and neighboring districts and create more jobs for the youth in the area. The factory is also expected to generate revenue through exportation of juice and other by-products of the pineapples.
NAADS Mechanised Agriculture Drive
President Museveni often talks about using technology to increase production, as opposed to only using manual power. He also relentlessly urges Ugandans to shift from the traditional ways of subsistence farming and instead embrace commercial farming through practicing agriculture on a large scale.
As such, through NAADS, the President has over the years given out several agricultural machines to help farmers boost their production.
Chief among these are tractors, which are given out to districts and sub-counties
Late last year 167 tractor operators were passed out after undergoing a 2-weeks training in tractor operation and maintenance at the 4 Zonal Agricultural Research Development Institutes (ZARDIs) of Abi in Arua, Nabuin in Nabilatuk, Bulindi in Hoima and Ngetta in Lira.
This brought the total number of tractor operators passed out to 280, meaning they will be operating the 280 tractors that were recently given out to various districts across Uganda by NAADS.
This intervention is aimed at increasing farm production and productivity for increased household food security, and incomes through the adoption of improved and efficient production technologies, enhancement of timeliness and profitability of farm operations, plus intensified farm production systems; as well as the provision of water for production to address adverse effects of climate. This is achieved through the various irrigation systems and measures that NAADS experts avail farmers with.
But apart from the tractors NAADS also avails farmers with the following equipment;
Solar water Pumping Systems
The intervention is aimed at providing water for production to address the adverse effects of the climate. This is mainly because climatic conditions are very difficult to predict, while some parts of the country receive lesser levels of rain compared to others.
Hand Hoes and Mechanised Hoes
Distributing hand and mechanised hoes to farmers by NAADS was started as an intervention to food security. Under this project NAADS is providing hoes to rural farmers so as to encourage them to engage in active farming.
Value Addition Equipment and Agribusiness Development Services
NAADS also came up with an initiative to provide farmers with equipment and services to help them add value to their agricultural produce. Like the Pineapple Juice Factory in Kayunga mentioned above, these interventions focused on the procurement, distribution and installation of milk coolers and matching generators, fruit processing plants, construction of fish hatchery, maize and rice milling, and matching equipment.
For instance, farmers in Fort Portal are producing wine out of grapes after being trained and using equipment provided by NAADS. Others are producing yogurt, ghee, cheese and other by-products of milk.
Recently, during the Africa-UK Summit which was held in January 2020, the British Prime minister Boris Johnson assured president Museveni that beef products from Uganda can be exported to the United Kingdom. This means that there is going to be a huge demand for beef and its by-products.
In our next edition we bring you the NAADS Public Relations Officer Ms Khadijja Nakakande, speaking about other Ugandans who lives have been touched by NAADS and the projects they are engaged in.