Apple farmers in Kasese district have been advised to improve on their agronomic practices to increase on the productivity and quality of their produce.
They have also been reminded to make better use of information technology to have better crop, fertilizer and pesticide selection and step up their integration into the wide apple value chain.
Grace Kazigate Fatumah, a member of the National Agriculture Advisory Services-NAADS secretariat says the recent NAADS assessment findings on apple growing across the country indicate an observable lack of skills among farmers and extension workers on how the crop is planted, maintained and marketed.
She adds that they also established that farmers do not want to invest extensively in crops that they receive freely from government something that affects the general output level.
Kazigate says they are getting on ground to ensure extension officers and farmers are properly trained and supported in agronomic practices. She said that they have given farmers support under OWC in the district up to six months to have improved on their gardens.
Denis Ashaba, a member of the National Agricultural Research Organization-NARO advises apple farmers to use local methods of farming and prevention of pests and diseases than every time waiting for the government. He says most of the challenges result from farmer’s themselves for failing to give attention to their gardens and responding to changes on time.
Saboni Johnson Mwesigye, the senior Kasese district agricultural officer agrees that the extension workers have been performing to the expectations of the farmers. However, he says they are currently re-tooling their staff to ensure there are better services being offered.
John Kimadi, the chairperson of Kasese Apple Growers Association-KAGA, also argues that improving rural infrastructure such as roads is crucial to raising productivity through reductions in transport costs and the loss due to fruit perishability. He also decries the lack of extension services to answer farmer’s concerns on time.