The vegetable component within the ISSD-Plus Project, is aimed at contributing to increased earnings and competitiveness of the vegetable sector actors which would 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 requirement, high production cost and low productivity. Such constraints have led to lower overall competitiveness of the Ugandan vegetable sector in comparison to neighbouring Kenya.
The ISSD-Plus Project intervention addresses the constraints to productivity and high production costs by promoting the use of advanced vegetable seed and contributing to activities towards enhancing an enabling environment for the vegetable sector.
Promotion of use of advanced vegetable seed is effected by exposing farmers to the available options among the advanced varieties. This is achieved through three complimentary work packages outlined below: -
Variety demonstrations; by these, the estimable characteristics of the advanced vegetable varieties are showcased and resounded. The component targets to establish 320 demonstrations targeting at least 12,800 farmers.
Capacity building in the sector; this is aimed at skilling at least 25 practicing professional and 20,000 farmers into real practical commercial horticulture.
Mass media campaigns; to augment the training and variety demonstration activities, radio and road shows shall be used to inspire masses into use of advanced varieties and adaption of appropriate agronomic practices for improved productivity of the sector.
Through these activities, awareness of the available advanced vegetable crops/varieties and their performance potentials shall be increased among the farmers which will subsequently result into increased use of the advanced vegetable seeds and adoption of improved agronomic practices. The increased use of such vegetable varieties alongside the improved agronomic practices will result into increased productivity of vegetables and reduced cost – price which will 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 purposes to contribute to the enhancement of an enabling environment for the sector. The project’s support towards a better environment shall include an in-depth horticulture sector analysis to identify bottlenecks within the sect.
Consequently, innovative ideas by the private sector which present solutions to the would - be identified sector competitiveness bottlenecks shall be supported by the project with a 50% matching grant. In addition, the project has an ambition to support activities to address policy gaps that will be identified by the study as a constraint to sector competitiveness.
In partnership with four seed companies (Enza Zarden, Bejo, East West and RijkZwan - represented by Holland Greentech), ISSD Plus promotes the use of superior varieties through two major activities which include: -
a) Setting up of 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 improved varieties.
The training site is comprised of production plots with a maximum of two vegetable varieties commonly grown by the host community and a superior variety promoted by the responsible seed company. At each training site, 25 farmers regularly receive training 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. However, the agronomist in charge of each site, may train on any other topic as necessary after the priority topics have been covered.
b) Training of Trainers’ 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 .
The variety demonstration sites: These are commercial / competitive sites at which each partner seed company show cases 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 capacity building programs for the sector professionals (extension providers) have been completed. The programs were designed to practically strengthen the sector professional’s extension and hands on skills in vegetable production. 72 sector professionals have benefited from the program.
15 Sector professionals and 6 commercial vegetable producers participated in the trip to SEVIA Tanzania. The trip was purposed to fortify the impact of the in-country capacity development programs.
ISSD Plus conducted a training event at which 378 farmers received training on improved vegetable production technologies.
Capacity building with farmers implemented in partnership with 6 seed companies – Cycas international, House of Seeds and East West. Through the ISSD supported training sites, seed companies have skilled over 7,000 farmers on improved vegetable production techniques
Promotion of use of superior varieties was effected at variety demonstrations sites and through radio messages
ISSD Plus will continue to support the programs mentioned above. However, for sustainability of the effective capacity building program for the Sector professionals, ISSD will embark on activities to embed the program with one of the existing institutions.