By Our reporter
Farmers in Kigezi Sub-region have been asked to embrace plastic mulching so as to increase productivity.
This call was recently made by Richard Ssepuya, an agricultural consultant from Crop Farms Uganda, a farming promotion company while addressing farmers in Kasambya Sub-County, Rukiga district during a one day agricultural seminar organised by Kyosiga Kyokungula One Voice Campaign (KKOVC), a local community based organisation in the area.
According to Ssepuya, plastic mulching which involves the use of high gauge polythene bags to cover a section of an area occupied by crops is a better option for preservation of manure and water during the dry season.
He added that the system also helps in controlling common pests and diseases that affect farmers since most of the pests cannot find haven in the area under plastic mulching.
“This technology helps in mulching and controls weeds, prevents soil erosion, reduces evaporation and keeps diseases at bay,” said Ssepuya.
Ssepuya said that they have been using the technology for over one year and thus have saved immensely on costs associated with weeding, water use and diseases.
“Our savings while using the technology are about 50 per cent. The plastic mulches are specially designed not to absorb heat which may harm the crops,” explains Ssepuya, adding that the paper which they use in applying this mulch is hard to tear and can serve for at least three years before wearing out.
Ssepuya said that many farmers use grass for mulching, which while it does the work; it does not guarantee better water retention.
Plastic mulching technology cuts water use by reducing evaporation making the crop gets 100 per cent of the water required. It is widely used in Israel and Asia.
Through the method, soil erosion is also controlled since the ground is covered and, therefore, no splashing of water occurs. With no splashing, the spread of diseases from one crop to the other is minimised.
“The technology also promotes the right spacing as both the drip and the plastic mulch paper have the right and equal spacing,” added Ssepuya.
According to Innocent Tugume, the KKOVC managing director,training farmers on the best new practices will help them acquire skills that will ensure more production and guarantee a more efficient sector.
“We still believe that our farmers can perform better than they are doing now. What is necessary is more sensitisation to the farmers,” said Tugume.
According to James Kagina, a resident of Nyakariba village in Kasambya sub-county most farmers do not know how to take care of their plantations which has limited their yields.
“Traditional farming practices are good but we need a more modernised approach to farming to have the best out of our farmer,” said Kagina.
Andrew Mwebesa, an agricultural trainer said that farmers in Kigezi region should have regular trainings about modern methods and there should be follow up to have these methods realised.