Kampala — THE ministry of agriculture is in a process of acquiring walk-behind (hand) tractors from Thailand to boost the agricultural sector.
In his hand-over report, former permanent secretary David Obong said over sh1b had been allocated for the purchase of the tractors.
He urged his successor, David Gabindadde Musoke, to speed up the procurement process.
"The preparatory activities for purchase of the tractors have been finalised and a contract agreement has been sent to SIAM Kubota Industry Company Ltd of Thailand, what remains to be done is effecting payment so that the tractors can be delivered," said Obong.
"After the tractors have been procured and tested for suitability, arrangements will be made for procuring the required number," Obong said.
For testing purposes 10 tractors will be availed to National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme. NAADS will provide logistical requirements for testing the tractors countrywide.
It should be noted that farmers in Iganga district have increased their agricultural production following the acquisition of the walking tractors, which are more economically viable compared to other farming implements.
The tractors were used for ploughing in different fields by private Ugandan farmers in the early 1980's. In Iganga they are being promoted by a private company, which is giving them to farmers at a subsidised price.
"The tractors cost between sh3m and sh4m. Most of the farmers pay for the tractors in installments for a period of three years," said Tom Musoke while exhibiting the tractors at the world food day celebrations in Bugiri last year.
"They are easy to use in the cultivation process unlike the usual tractors. They can be used to plough, weed and harvest," said Sarah Namubiru, a resident of Kiringa village who is using the tractor to cultivate maize.
Namubiru said the production of maize in had always been below average because of the limited labour.
The tractors are categorised into three types, that is to say 8hp, 9.5hp and 15hp. The 8hp-walking tractor has both a hauling and driving ability.
The 9.5Hp-walking tractor has both a hauling and driving ability. The tractor comes with a single plough.
The 15hp-walking tractor has both a hauling and driving ability. It comes with a double plough. The tractors are easy to operate and maintain.
They have harrower, paddy wheels, ploughs single and double share, reaper, rotary Tiller and seed dispenser. The accessory designs are dependant on particular tractor dimensions.
"Our engineers provide introductory machinery training at different sites, on the test fields," Musoke said.