For farmers growing matooke - Uganda's plantain banana - effective marketing of their crop can be difficult. Prices paid by traders are highly variable and it is common to see bananas rotting on the tree as farmers fail to find a buyer. Recently, however, the government has launched an initiative to support banana processing. Farmers are being taught how to dry their fruit, so that they can be made into flour, and this is now beginning to replace wheat flour in local diets. Pius Sawa talks to the director of the initiative, to a food processor, a chef, and to people on the street in Kampala, about this exciting development for banana growers, and tries some matooke-flour soup.
published: October 2008
Mabira forest in Uganda receives rainfall that supplies five major rivers, and helps maintain water levels in Lake Victoria and the Nile basin. Recently, the Ugandan government has been hoping to use up to a third of the forest area for sugarcane production, threatening both the environmental services the forest provides as well as the resources it offers to local people. However, the National Forestry Authority, which has been encouraging forest protection and replanting by local communities, has opposed the plan. In Protecting forests - local voices a parish chief and a farmer give their views on the importance of forest protection.
published: September 2008
In Uganda's Kayunga district, the organisation Women and Youth Services (WAYS) is working to reduce poverty through agricultural development. People have been given training in beekeeping, coffee growing and citrus fruit production and are being helped to access low interest loans. WAYS is also planning to build a honey collection centre, so that the communities can produce both sufficient quality and quantity of honey to supply the international market. Beekeeping is an extremely appropriate activity for disadvantaged groups - such as widows, orphans, and those with HIV/AIDS - as it requires relatively little investment or land, has low risks and can earn good prices for honey on national and international markets. Executive Director of WAYS, Margaret Mbaziira, explains more in Earning money from honey.
published: August 2008
In recent years, banana farming in East Africa has had its fair share of troubles. Diseases like Black Sigatoka have decimated harvests and the spread of banana bacterial wilt threatens to be even more devastating. But, according to Andrew Kiggundu of Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organisation, there is better news in the pipeline. The government in Uganda is now supporting trials of disease-resistant GM bananas which, Kiggundu believes, could have a major role in protecting banana harvests. And in October 2008, exciting new marketing opportunities for Africa's banana growers will be under discussion at the Banana 2008 conference in Mombassa.
published: July 2008
Heavy rains and damp conditions bring greater disease risks to livestock. Wet ground can lead to foot rot in cattle, goats and sheep; damp litter in poultry houses encourages the spread of coccidiosis. And if livestock are moved away from floodwaters to areas with large populations of wild animals they may be at risk from other diseases such as foot and mouth. In early 2008, floods in southern Zambia led to problems such as these. Senior Veterinary Officer Paul Fandamu explains what practical steps livestock farmers can take to protect their animals' health during the rainy months.
published: June 2008
Around the world, the rising cost of food is hitting hard, sparking widespread protests, with riots in some countries. The causes are various: increasing demand for food in fast-developing nations like India and China; droughts in Australia; the rising cost of oil and the expansion in crops grown for fuel. But in Uganda, a further factor is driving high food prices: exports. Much of Uganda's farm produce is now being exported, earning good money for some but making life harder for many more. Wambi Michael reports on how this trend in impacting on ordinary Ugandans, and what politicians and food experts in the country are saying about the crisis.
published: June 2008
Starting a new farm business, such as vegetable growing, is never easy. Being successful demands hard work and good organisation, as well as knowledge and skills in cultivation and marketing. But new commercial farmers don't have to take on all these challenges alone. Forming or joining a team of farmers with a shared enterprise can reduce risks and bring many other advantages, including better access to markets. Malawian farmer Edwin Ngwale explains to Excello Zidana how his cooperative works, and the benefits it gives him.
published: May 2008
Although wood has always been a source of fuel, due to deforestation, it is less available than it has been in previous years. In 'Fuel efficient stoves', Susanna Thorp finds out about a kind of stove which can be used to reduce the amount of wood fuel used for cooking. And, from a health point of view, the stoves are much better than open fires because they have a chimney which directs harmful fumes away from the kitchen.
published: April 2008
When it comes to making a profit, what better way to do it than to produce something that everyone loves - chocolate! In Cameroon, making cocoa butter and chocolate from cocoa beans has become a good earner for the group GIC AIDES - FEMMES. Using traditional methods of processing, they add value to the beans by making cocoa butter and producing chocolate - which both sell for more than the beans themselves in the market. In 'From cocoa beans to butter' Martha Chindong finds out how the process works.
published: April 2008
It is often thought that yield depends on the size of your plot. But, when Excello Zidana put this to Vincent Wandale at the Ministry of Agriculture in Malawi, he was told that there are other things to consider. It's not just the size of your plot that matters - but what you plan to do with it that counts. So, when you are considering what to plant, think of the ways you can maximise your land. Use high yielding varieties of maize for example. Check what inputs you can afford throughout the year - will you have enough money to invest in your crop, and if not, what steps can you take to ensure that you do? Listen to 'Being efficient on a small plot' to find out more.
published: March 2008
To be notified when new Agfax reports come online, write your email address in the box below.