Parliament Evaluating Seed Companies

2674 Views Omoro, Uganda

In short
Robert Migadde, the Agriculture vice Committee Chairperson, says they are evaluating the seeds from Equator Seeds Limited, which has dozens of mother gardens in Midwestern Uganda and Northern Uganda.

The Agriculture Committee of parliament has embarked on a spot check of the gardens where the seeds distributed to farmers by seed companies originate from around the country. The committee members are led by their vice chairman, Robert Migadde, the Buvuma County Member of parliament.
Some of the companies being evaluated are Equator Seeds Limited, Fica Seeds, Naseco Seeds, Pearl Seeds and Gavic/Uganda Prisons Seeds. The spot checks come amidst reports of poor germination by some of seeds distributed to farmers such as maize, beans, groundnuts, rice and sorghum among others. 

A physical midterm evaluation conducted between April and May this year showed that there were complaints of between 75 and 80 percent germination rates in some areas, which received seeds under Operation Wealth Creation.

The report observed that some of the seeds that failed to germinate were distributed way later after the season had started and were hit by the dry spell. The most affected areas included West Nile, Teso sub-region, Lango sub-region and Karamoja.

Robert Migadde, the Agriculture vice Committee Chairperson, says they are evaluating the seeds from Equator Seeds Limited, which has dozens of mother gardens in Midwestern Uganda and Northern Uganda. He says they have so far conducted spot checks on maize gardens that are supported by Equator Seeds Limited in Masindi, Kigumba, Bweyale, Omoro districts and Minakulu.

They have also held meetings with the management of Equator seeds limited led by its Managing Director, Tonny Okello. He says they have observed a problem of pests that have infested maize gardens whose seeds are meant for distribution to farmers.
Migadde notes that they have observed some gaps as far as observation of regulations are concerned.

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Tonny Okello, the Managing Director Equator Seeds Limited, says they give support to several farmers and out grower's cooperatives around the country. The support comes in form of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.

Okello says the fall army worm and poachers remain the biggest challenges to seed production. He says they are investing between Shillings 12 to 15 million to fight the fall army worm that has infested some maize gardens in Masindi, Omoro and Gulu.

He says the army worm has increased the cost of production. Okello explains that some dealers who don't want to invest in seed production go behind their back and offer slightly higher prices to farmers who get tempted and sell off their produce.

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Some of the farmers say they are happy with the maize seeds distributed by Equator seeds limited, which later buys it from them.

Eddy Okello, the chairperson of Acwec Omio Cooperative Society limited in Oyam district, which gets support from Equator Seeds Limited says they are happy because they get incentives in form of fertilizers, seeds and fair prices from the firm. 

Paul Tumusiime, a member of Masindi District Farmers Association that is supported by Equator Seeds Limited which owns over 100 acres of maize, says their main challenge is lack of farm machinery. He explains that they still use hand hoes to cultivate their gardens since they lack capacity to buy farm machinery.
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The Committee is expected to move to move to the farms supported by Naseco seeds this week.


About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.