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Thursday, September 29, 2011

SNV Conducts Eighth Multi Stakeholder Platform (MSP) Meeting.

SNV in partnership with the MSP stakeholders today 29.09.11 conducted their eighth Multi stakeholder’s platform meeting (at Gardens restaurant in Fort Portal) under the theme “partnerships in enhancing the pineapple value chain in the Rwenzori region”.
The purpose of the meeting was to bring key stakeholders in the pineapple value chain together to share ideas on how partnerships can be utilized to enhance pineapple production, processing and marketing in the Rwenzori region.
Participants included staff from NARO, FAO, RIC-NET, SNV, District NAADs Officials, and pineapple growing farmers from the Rwenzori region.

During the meeting participants shared what they have been doing since the last MSP meeting in April 2010. Sharing their experiences, a representative from Kyenjojo District revealed that 16 coaches from 16 sub counties had been trained on how to manage the pineapple wilt disease that was raised by the farmers in the previous MSP meeting as a major challenge. These coaches are expected to go down and train their fellow farmers about the same. A stakeholders’ platform for pineapple farmers had also been held.
In Kamwenge District the farmers in Kahunge had chosen to first establish the number of pineapple farmers and the number of suckers they had in total; 20 farmers and 4012 suckers were established to be in place, while in Nyabbani Sub county farmers had been organized to start bulk marketing and had already established pineapple collection centers.

Reporting for Kasese Yofesi Kitholu regretted to note that they had not yet held a District stakeholders meeting but that they were planning to do so soon whereas in Ntoroko pineapple farmers had held a meeting to share on how they can be successful pineapple farmers because the biggest challenge is that farmers are still farming in isolation.
The meeting learnt that Kabarole did not have many pineapple farmers although it had 5 processors producing wine, juice and jam.
A staff from NARO indicated that a national stakeholders meeting had been held on 05.09.11 in Kampala, during which meeting the MSP objectives had been redefined and a road map on how and where the platform should proceed was drafted.
In his presentation about cross boarder experience/interventions in pineapple growing, Kiiza Daniel from FAO among others revealed that they are piloting marketing of solar dried pineapples because they have value addition; a longer shelf life, approximately 2 years without getting spoilt, less transportation costs, and they fetch a relatively higher price on the market (a kilogram ranges from 7000 to 10000 shillings). This is already being done in Kasese, Kampala, Kayunga and Tororo Districts.
In addition to this an Official from the Kasese NAADs office shared that the NAADs office in partnership with the national NAADs Secretariat are planning to set up a regional information center for marketing in Kasese. The Center that is going to be fully stocked with Computers installed to the internet is going to be hosted by Abasaija Kweyamba Cooperative Society and is expected to serve all the farmers in the Rwenzori region. Similarly Mubuku irrigation scheme is also going to be supplied with similar facilities and charged with a responsibility of disseminating market prices to the farmers in the region.

Besides experience sharing the participants were also refreshed on how to manage on control the spread of pineapple pests and diseases like Wilting, mealybugs and nematodes among others. Participants learnt that wilting is mainly caused by poor drainage. The facilitator also noted that weeds and shade are detrimental to pineapples. He advised the farmers to always treat suckers with chloropyritos or locally made pesticides mixed form ash, urine and tobacco before planting them as a remedy for mealybugs, nematodes and wilting.
Other issues discussed included the use of coaches (trained farmers in the community expected to train and motivate others) as an ideal model to help farmers access knowledge and skills that can improve their farming.

The meeting helped in pointing out the different activities that partners were doing in the areas of production; Increase sucker multiplier sites, and quality production, marketing; quality plus quality assurance, record keeping-production, group marketing- collection centers, and value addition; piloting pineapple drying, improving on quality and hygiene.

CLIMATE CHANGE HAS INCREASED DEMAND FOR FOOD WORLD WIDE

The causes and effects of the global economic crisis are well documented and have been the subject of debate in virtually every conference on this planet .At same time there is immense pressure on the global supply of food and natural resources due to change of climate , and cross board trade has increased the demand of food supply especially along CONGO boarder .Moreover the world has become an almost entirely occupied space ,as result of advent of internet and other technological developments

Countries and companies are busy looking for countries that may serve as" food baskets " when their own supplies dry up and this has triggered increase cross boarder investment. Further more companies have responded to technological developments by restructuring their operations and reducing operation costs to remain competitive. BY Rwaheeru Geoffrey

Thursday, September 22, 2011

PLANT DOCTORS BRING HOPE TO FARMERS IN BUNDIBUGYO


Health is solely part and parcel of human beings and other living things. This is what RIC-NET under the program health plants for a health future is looking at. Plant Doctors have been trained under the Global Plant Clinic program. Unlike before, when it took ages for agricultural extension worker to reach to the farmers. But with the emergency of plant clinic in Bundibugyo, It now takes a minute for the farmer to get advisory service from the plant doctor based in the communities.

Affected plants have reduced major crop production especially maize, banana, cassava, cocoa and beans. In most part of Bundibugyo district the Banana Bacterial Wilt, maize weevil, cassava mosaic, insects and mites that enter the pod have continuously frustrated the farmers to reap from their labour. Cocoa production in Bundibugyo is also likely to reduce because of the diseases that affect the pods and the entire plant in the field.

Plant doctors are serving voluntarily in the different places of the community especially Bubandi and Bundibugyo Town Council; he(s) is farmer trained on different crop, pest and disease control practices. They visit farmers in the garden and in most cases farmers come with crop samples for diagnosis. In both places the open plant clinic is on Monday.

According to Musoke Wilson a plant Doctor at Semliki plant clinic, he said there is “a big positive change in the community”. Farmers are becoming interested in bringing samples of sick crops to the doctors. This is due to the fact that, the service provided is free and plant Doctors are community based and easily accessed. In addition, high ability of farmers’ to mobilize themselves to utilize plant clinics or source the information has increased information sharing. The willingness of the plant Doctor to handle farmers’ problems at that particular moment has brought hope to the farmers to get rid of the pests and diseases to the crops.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MARKET INFORMATION SYMPOSIUM


The second market Information symposium took place from 15-16th September 2011 at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala. The main theme was “Marketing Information a Leverage in National Food security Planning and Regional Sustainable Trade”. The symposium was organized by FIT-Uganda in partnership with AGRI- PROFOCUS (APF). 
RICNET was represented by the Executive Director and the ICT Officer. The symposium provided a platform for discussion and dialogue among service providers, users, policy makers, traders and farmers within Uganda and East Africa.
Particular emphasis was placed on drawing lessons on best practices for sustainable information systems that can be replicated within the region to increase service efficiency and effectiveness to the end users.

FAREWELL FOR INFORMATION ADVISOR


"YOU DID IT", these were the words of the Executive Director RICNET to the outgoing Information advisor Mr ,Rajamohan .The function took place inside  RICNET's board room.It was a great  moment as all staff were present to say bye to Raja who had been in the organization for one year. It was a good moment for Raja as he was going back to his home country though he was going to miss the beauty of the pearl of Africa,  RICNET as an organisation was going to miss the company and the expertise from  Mr.Raja especially the time he introduced the management tools.The staff later had lunch with the adviser,it was such a greatful day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

RICNET INITIATES PARTNERSHIP WITH BUNDIBUGYO DISTRICT LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN INFORMATION SHARING

By Joselyne Kyomuhendo
It was a journey of a team on thursday 15th September 2011 as the staff of Rwenzori information centers network (RIC-NET) travelled through Ntoroko in the low lands of Butuku where the new road passes and finally the reached town by 11:30am
Kyomuhendo Joselyne, kaliba Charles from RIC-NET along with Mwasi Charles from semuliki information centre were at the District headquarters where they met the Chief Administrative officer and introduced the interests of RIC-NET in partnering with the District to enhance information sharing for more citizen participation in the development processes, RIC-NET will build the District website, Establish an E-society centre , train the District team in the use of the above packages after the round table meeting with the other stakeholders

construction on Bundibugyo Road

The CAO welcomed the initiative of RIC-NET and communicated that services as internet are much needed in the District as they are not available currently, to this effect a room was secured to host the centre, by yesterday an officer was assigned to correspond with RICNET for further progress
A memorandum of understanding will be signed before the centre formally takes off.


CAO & District staff in the proposed room to host the E-centre

Saturday, September 10, 2011

LAMIS AND FARMIS INTRODUCED TO RIC-NET AND HER RURAL INFORMATION CENTERS (RICs) STAFF

FIT-UGANDA conducted training with RIC-NET and her RICs staff on 5th 09.2011 to 7th 09.2011 at Kabarole Information Center (KIC).
The training was intended to introduce the two products that FIT-Uganda has on market that facilitate the management of market prices and farmers records online.
The two products are;
LAMIS (Localised Agricultural marketing information systems) and
FARMIS (farmer record Management Information System)
The main aim of introducing these online platforms was to reduce time in data collection and analysis
Other yet important factors of introducing these management information systems (MIS) were;
• Aiding farmers in Comparison of prices
• Enabling farmers/traders make decisions on whether to store or not to store produce
• Help farmers reduce risks associated with marketing.
• To provide historical data (price trends)
• Help farmers get information on what products to farm in.
• Help in planning and evaluation i.e food security

 Another product introduced was the bulky SMS (web2phone) that would provide information about agricultural prices to farmers on their phones as long as a farmer subscribes to get the information.


Nearly 80% of the training was practical (hands on). On the second day of the training, participants moved to Mpanga market to collect market prices from traders and entered them in the system.
Equally a number of other tools were introduced that will enable data collectors (RICs) to gather information from farmers and markets.
Among others were the crop card and the profiling book.
Participants enjoyed the training that was facilitated by Madam Rita and Paul from FIT-Uganda.

The training ended successfully on the third day at 5:00 pm and the way forward was the Rural information Centers (RICs) to immediately start collecting data from their farmers by use of the crop card for those who had profiled first and then use of the profiling book for those RICs that were going to do it for the first time.
FIT-Uganda also trained a staff from RIC-NET in the administration of the online platforms and promised to send the administration account details as soon the system is fully in use.

Friday, September 2, 2011

HEALTHY PLANTS FOR HEALTHY PEOPLE


Human beings have Clinics while cars and motorbikes have garages/clinics, so why not plants? remarked Dr. Andrew Mugalula the Plant Clinic Country Director- Ministry of Agriculture while facilitating a two days training on plant clinics at RIC-NET offices.
The aim of plant clinics is to help farmers recognize their problems and solve them.
The training whose objective was to enhance participants knowledge and skills in plant diagnosis and electronic data entry run from 31.08.11 to 01.09.11.
The training also aimed at creating a fora for experience sharing on the community’s perception on plant clinics, most common crop diseases reported, lessons learnt, and challenges encountered in the implementation of the project by the plant doctors.

Participants were drawn from Bundibudgyo and Kasese Districts where RIC-NET is piloting the plant clinics project and from the information Centers where she intends to extend the project soon. They included 7 active plant doctors and the 7 information officers from RIC-NET’s Information Centers. Other participants were 4 RIC-NET staff.

Sharing their experiences, the plant doctors noted that the community is so grateful about the plant clinic project and appeals for the establishment of more plant clinics and recruitment of more plant doctors in the community. In Kyondo and Bubandi for instance, only one plant doctor is operating there. From the advisory services given the plant doctors noted that some farmers have reported improved yields in their production and a reduction in the infection rate of their gardens especially the banana plantations.

Overwhelming numbers of clients bringing their sick crop samples; for instance in Bubandi Sub county in Bundibudgyo members learnt that the plant Doctor Katushabe Agnes had received 250 clients since February 2011 to date,inadequate facilitation to visit the farmers’ gardens, inadequate clinical equipments like hand lenses,and disposal bins, inadequate furniture and lack of tents for shelter were named among those challenges hindering the smooth running of the plant clinics.

In addition to this the participants noted lack of knowledge about the plant clinic project amongst the leaders both at district and local Government levels,asserting that some leaders are questioning their operations/mandate. They appealed to RIC-NET to ensure more involvement and information sharing with the different leaders about this project.

Facilitating the training Andrew defined plant disgnosis as that process which involves elimination of suspcision of likely causes to real cause of the crop diesase. Plant Diagnosis is based on 3 options; A-abiotic; this is when the crop disease is caused by non living factors,B-biotic;this is when the crop disease is caused by living things,pests or mammals and C- this simply put is unknown or when the individual is confused and can’t tell the exact cause of the crop disease.
He cautioned the participants to never diagonise a plant if they ain’t sure of the problem, asserting that incase of any challenges they shouldnt hesitate to send samples to the labarotory in Kampala-Entebbe for further and proffessional diagnosis.

The participants learnt that the biggest task in running plant clinics is being able to use the symptoms- the visible expressions of a disease. Andrew revealed some of the most common symptoms to include; brown stain decay especially in cassava,distorted leaves/foliage,necrosis (loosing colour),wilting,yellowing,crocodile skin,brown streaking,leaf curling,fruit decay,white or black powder,declining,strange growths,swelling and cankers to mention but a few.
Once one is able to identify and understand the symptom then its easier to diagnise the sick crop and be able to tell if the infection is fungal,viral or bacterium. Andrew tasked the plant doctors to concentrate on understanding the symptoms first.
Commenting on the coverage of plant clinics in Uganda, the facilitator revealed that plant clinics are still very few in Uganda and majority operate as mobile clinics like only on market days as opposed to other countries like in Congo where permanent plant clinics have been established.

During the training participants were also taken through a number of templates to help them capture/record their data; electronic excel data register for their clients,client prescription form,monitoring form template, among others. Andrew explained that good record keeping makes it easier for the plant doctor to keep track of the number of clients,crop diseases reported and progress registered in a specific period. Other issues trained in were, how to become a plant doctor and how a plant clinic operates.

The participants were introduced to various video showcase studies on plant clinic operations in the world from which they learnt the positive impact that plant clinics have had to the lives of the farmers,the practicability/operations of a plant clinic,and the different media (radios,banners,and public address systems) plant doctors have used to create awareness about plant clinic operations.

As part of the training the participants had a field visit to SATNET’s demonstration site and training center at Toro Botanical Gardens where they were able to look at diffrenet plants and also study the different symptoms exhibited on the crops. Crop samples were picked and jointly looked at in groups by the participants under the guidance of the facilitator.

From the training RIC-NET learnt that participants’ knowledge and skills on plant diagnosis and data entry was enhanced and a broader understanding on how plant clinics operate created.

Wrapping up the training, participants recommended thus; RIC-NET should conduct a follow up exercise to the plant clinics and conduct an evaluation of their operations and also share with the people on ground about this project, more engagement of and information sharing about the plant clinic project should be done with the different stakeholders especially the district and sub county Agricultural officers.

There is also need to establish more plant clinics, and, to train and recruit more plant doctors to meet the high farmers’ demands on ground; related to this RIC-NET should work towards strengthening the existing plant clinics in terms of providing clinical equipments,furniture and imparting more knowledge and skills in various areas to the plant doctors.
The participants also appealed for regular capacity building trainings and to have the training content on DVDs so that they can share/show case it to the communities for easier learning and understanding of symptom identification in crops.