IFPRI Kampala Newsletter – week of Dec 15th 2013
Hello, and welcome to the IFPRI Uganda Strategy Support Program’s weekly news digest.
This weekly collection of recent news articles related to agriculture in Uganda is compiled from online news sources. We also include links to recent publications on agricultural and policy-related research topics pertinent to Uganda.
In news this week, we report on an interesting IITA project and agri-processing. We also provide an article for some of you who want to try something different than turkey for Christmas day.
Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:
- Indigenous knowledge of seasonal weather forecasting: A case study in six regions of Uganda
- Cassava Pests and Diseases’ Prevalence and Performance as Revealed by Adaptive Trial Sites in North Western Agro-Ecological Zone of Uganda
Thank you, and enjoy.
The Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have launched a new project to develop disease resistant enset through biotechnology.
The project launched on 16 December 2013 seeks to develop varieties of the enset or the Ethiopian banana (Ensete ventricosum), a staple food source for over 15 million people in Ethiopia, which has been affected by a deadly bacterial disease since 1968. The disease, currently threatening to wipe out banana in east and central Africa covering Uganda, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Burundi makes the plant yield ‘false bananas', which are inedible fruits resembling the actual crop. Scientists have failed to find any genes of resistance to the bacterial wilt disease in banana and enset and their wild relatives after over 30 years of research.
Farmers in Busia County, western Kenya, are processing and packaging flour made from vitamin A-rich, orange-fleshed sweet potato. Through the Siwongo Processors company, farmers are processing around 1.2 t of flour each day. Some is sold locally while the rest is bought by food companies based in Nairobi to fortify other foods. “Orange sweet potatoes are very profitable,” explains farmer Florence Naliaka. “I have educated my first born and I have managed to build a permanent house, and bought a dairy cow. Life is good.”
Long-horned grasshoppers, commonly known as Nsenene in central Uganda, are not only a delicacy but an important source of income. Although most people pick them from the bushes or other places where they land, those with commercial interests on a wider scale use more efficient means.
Okonya, J. and Kroschel, J. (2013). Agricultural Sciences, 4, 641-648.
Indigenous knowledge of seasonal weather forecasting could be useful in decision making at village level to best exploit the seasonal distribution of rainfall in order to increase or stabilize crop yields. We examined existing indigenous knowledge by interviewing 192 households in six regions of Uganda. Twenty one distinctive indicators were mentioned by local communities for forecasting the start of the dry season, but only few of these indicators were more consistently and frequently used in the different districts. These included the appearance of bush crickets (Ruspolia baileyi Otte), winds blowing from the east to the west, the appearance and movement of migratory birds such as cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis Linnaeus), and calling by the Bateleur eagle (Terathopius ecaudatus Lesson). For prediction of the start of the rainy season, 22 indicators were mentioned and these included winds blowing from the west to the east, cuckoo birds (Cuculiformes: Cuculidae) start to call, and winged African termite (Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki) swarms leave their nests. Predictors of rain in the following days included presence of red clouds in the morning. Together with the meteorological forecasts, traditional indicators could be very useful in rain forecasting and improving the timing of agricultural activities.
A. Abaca, M. Kiryowa, E. Awori, A. Andema, F. Dradiku, A. S. Moja, J. Mukalazi (2014) Journal of Agricultural Science 6(1)
Cassava adaptive trial was planted in ten sub counties across West Nile Agro-ecological Zone (WNAEZ) with six cassava varieties to test their performance and reactions to major pests and diseases present in the Zone. Th six cassava varieties comprised of improved (TME 14 and 204, NASE 13 and 14 and Akena – TMS I92/00067) and a local (Abiria) were selected based on their availability and preference in the region. The experiment was planted in RCBD design with three replicates. The experiment was planted in ten locations with the plot size was 6x6 metres. Results showed Cassava green mite (CGM), Cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava bacterial blight (CBB) as major pest and diseases across all sites. Cassava Anthracnose (CA) and Cassava mealy bug (CM) were not present in the study sites. Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) foliar symptoms was observed in three locations of Dranya s/c, Gimara s/c and Nyaravuru s/c on the three varieties of TME 204, TMS-I92/00067 and TME 14, whereas CBSD root necrosis was seen across all sites on TME 204, TMS-I92/00067, NASE 13, TME 14 and the Local except on NASE 14. In terms of yields, results showed that it was highest in TMS-I92/00067 (53.0 t/ha), TME 204 (46.0 t/ha), NASE 14 (39.4 t/ha), TME 14 (34.6 t/ha), NASE 13 (33.4 t/ha) and the local (22.7 t/ha) in that order. Farmers’ ranking of the studied cassava varieties in order of preference was in the order of NASE 14, TME 204, TMS-I92/00067, TME 14, NASE 13 and the Local. In conclusion, absence of both foliar and root symptoms on NASE 14 across all sites indicated that this variety is still tolerant to CBSD and can still be multiplied for production in West Nile Agro-ecological Zone.