Uptake of Quality Seed for vegetable crops

The vegetable component within the ISSD-Plus Project is aimed at contributing to increased earnings and competitiveness of the vegetable sector actors which will subsequently contribute to improved national food and nutrition security.

The renowned major constraints to vegetable production and competitiveness of the sector both on the local/regional and international markets include, limited access to and knowledge of well-adapted varieties that are available in the market, lack of knowledge and skills in recommended agronomic practices, pre-dominant use of low quality seedlings from field nurseries, high pest and disease pressure, poor water and fertilizer use , lack of market information on vegetable crops, inconsistency in vegetable product quality and supply, non-conformity to phytosanitary requirements, high production cost and low productivity. Such constraints have led to lower overall competitiveness of the Ugandan vegetable sector in comparison to neighboring countries.

The ISSD-Plus Project Vegetable intervention addresses the constraints to productivity and high production costs by promoting the use of superior vegetable seed and contributing to activities towards enhancing an enabling environment for the vegetable sector.

Promotion of the use of superior vegetable seed is effected by exposing farmers to the available options among the superior varieties. This is achieved through three complimentary work packages outlined below: –

  • Variety demonstrations; by these, the estimable characteristics of the superior vegetable varieties are showcased and resounded. The component targets to establish 440 demonstrations targeting at least 17,600 farmers.
  • Capacity building in the sector; this is aimed at skilling at least 100 practicing sector professionals (Extension service providers) and 20,000 farmers into real practical commercial Vegetable production.

  • Mass media campaigns; to augment the training and variety demonstration activities and radio shows are used to inspire masses into use of superior varieties and adaption of appropriate agronomic practices for improved productivity of the sector.

Through these activities, awareness of the available superior vegetable varieties and their performance potentials is increased among the farmers which subsequently results into increased use of the superior vegetable varieties and adoption of improved agronomic practices.

The increased use of such vegetable varieties alongside the improved agronomic practices results into increased productivity of vegetables and reduced cost price which eventually contribute to improved competitiveness of the sector.

However, productivity and improved production efficiency must be reinforced by an enabling environment for sustained competitiveness to be stimulated. ISSD Plus therefore contributes to the enhancement of an enabling environment for the sector. The project’s support towards a better environment includes an in-depth horticulture sector analysis to identify bottlenecks within the sector.

Consequently, innovative ideas by the private sector which present solutions to the identified sector competitiveness’ bottlenecks are supported by the project with a 50% matching grant.

ISSD Plus promotes the use of superior varieties in partnership with six seed companies namely; House of Seeds (Enza Zaden), Cycas international ( Bejo), East West, Home harvest ( Bakker Brothers), Syngenta B.V. and Holland Greentech ( RijkZwan). And this is done through three major activities which include: –

1. In-depth farmer training consisting of;

a) Seed Company led in-depth farmer training sites at which farmers receive training to equip themselves with skills that will enable them to successfully grow superior varieties of any company. It is a pre-competitive activity whereby partnering seed companies train farmers on improved agronomic practices irrespective of the varieties used by farmers. The purpose is to improve the farmers’ agronomic practices on vegetable production as a foundation for successful adoption of the superior vegetable varieties. Each training site is comprised of production plots with a maximum of three vegetable varieties. At each training site, 25 farmers regularly receive training which is scheduled based on the crop stage.

ISSD Plus earmarked four priority topics namely: – Improved Nursery Systems, Crop Protection, Fertilization and Water Conservation techniques; which must be delivered at each training site among others. However, the agronomist in charge of each site, may train on any other topic as necessary after the priority topics have been covered. The group of farmers must receive atleast 5 sessions of training during a given crop cycle.

b) Training of Trainers (ToT) Program: To contribute to improved extension services for vegetable producers, ISSD-Plus Project in collaboration with Wageningen UR- plant research team implements a Training of Trainers (ToT) program for each region (East, West, North and South) regions of Uganda.

The program is purposed to strengthen the hands on skills among the extension providers. Targeted are the extension providers at various organizations: Researchers, Agro-input dealers, Government Extension Workers and private service providers within the Vegetable sector. Each program is attended by 25 extension service providers.

2. The variety demonstration sites: These are commercial / competitive sites at which each partner seed company showcases the estimable characteristics of their varieties. At crop maturity, farmers are invited to a field day to evaluate the performance of the exhibited variety for informed decision making in regard to variety selection

3. Radio shows

Outputs accomplished

Number of farmers to whom advanced vegetable varieties were showcased during field days on 442 demonstration sites

Number of vegetable farmers who underwent 5-week long in-depth demonstrational trainings in technologies critical to vegetable agronomy

Number of farmers that received training from vegetable sector professionals during four training events held in the Central and Western region of Uganda

Number of sector professionals taken through a training of trainers in the high input-high output system of vegetable production

Tested a low-cost hydroponics system that eliminates use of nematicides in lettuce production

Identified 11 biological control agents and one of them reached trial stage Developed national protocols for use of biological control agents in Uganda