16 April 2013

Uganda: Israel-Uganda Relations Strengthened

On the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the State of Israel , the Ambassador of Israel to Uganda Gil Haskel, has described Israel's relations with Uganda as highly cordial.

On April 15 this year, Israel celebrates 65 years of rebirth as a nation in the Holy Land, after nearly 2000 years of the Jewish dispersion into exile in 70 AD. "Our relations with Uganda is cordial. We believe Uganda is an important strategic power in East Africa and the entire region, we are keen to engage with Uganda," Ambassador Haskel said.

Bilateral co-operation between Uganda and Israel, currently encompasses agriculture, postharvest technologies, animal husbandry, water management, health and homeland security.

Israeli companies are also active in infrastructural development and the services industry in Uganda. "We are encouraging more Israeli companies to explore investment opportunities in Uganda," said Ambassador Haskel.

He said Israel is working to introduce sophisticated agrotechnology to Uganda, which is adapted to local conditions. He said Israeli technology could transform Uganda's entire agriculture, bringing it to global standards.

"Uganda has sufficient amount of waters that come down from the sky and fill the rivers annually, there is no reason why any area in Uganda should be arid, semi-arid or fail to enjoy sufficient water for irrigation and domestic usage," Ambassador Haskel explained.

He added that the bilateral friendship is to share with Uganda the best of Israel's technologies for agriculture and water management. Israel has also recently completed a fully equipped modern trauma and emergency centre at Mulago Hospital to give emergency treatment to accident victims. In addition, Israel has expressed its willingness to assist Uganda in the creation of a modern ambulance service based on the effective Israeli model.

Ambassador Haskel urged Ugandans to take part in the many educational and training opportunities conducted in Israel every year in the fields of education, health, agriculture, aqua-culture and ICT. This will help scholars get skills and competencies necessary for success in the modern world.

" Ugandans are welcome to Israel and we promise to share with them our best experiences," he said. Israeli diplomatic ties with Uganda, which thrived in the 1960s, collapsed in 1972, when President Idi Amin expelled Israelis living in Uganda.

Diplomatic ties were restored under the NRM Government in the 1990s. Officials of the Government of Uganda and the State of Israel have in recent years shared high level bilateral exchange visits, including those of President Museveni and Premier Amama Mbabazi, signaling growing ties between the two countries.

Ambassador Haskel said he is optimistic the relations between Israel and Uganda and those between their great people will grow from strength to strength.

Farmer's kit: the dawn of greenhouse farming By Gilbert Kidimu

Ugandan farmers have always encountered multiple challenges in their field. Pests and diseases have seen yields fall substantially and some large scale farmers losing acres of yields.

The fact that more than 95%of Ugandan farmers depend on the unpredictable rains is a no-brainer. It is hard to tell the right season to plant and many farmers' expectations have fallen through along the way. There are also adverse weather effects such as floods and too much heat.

These manifold challenges have done little to help their trade grow or Uganda's farming industry to thrive, in spite of our fertile soils and potential to be a world food basket.

This creates need to reinvent the wheel, discard the unsustainable methods and make it possible to plant a crop from January to December.

In response to this, Balton, a worldwide company with a branch in Uganda, introduced the Farmer's kit, a small irrigation system that they put together to enhance production for mainly horticulture products (vegetables).

The kit aims at improving the livelihoods of farmers and promote food security. "The farmer's kit is designed not only to fit on a small piece of land, for example a 50 by 100, but also creates an environment for a farmer to produce in spite of the weather as it uses the irrigation system,' explains Daniel Pikeri, the sales co-ordinator at the Irrigation Department. He adds that because the plants are enclosed in a greenhouse, this prevents pests and diseases; hence fewer pesticides are used on the plants.

The project, which rolled out in Uganda towards the end of 2010, starting with the central region in places such as Wakiso, Kampala, Mukono and spread out to the rest of the country, is making waves in the farming industry.

Transforming farming

There is more awareness about greenhouse farming, which is more sustainable. The method utilised little space to produce high yields.

The 120 square km covered by greenhouse can take in 500 sweet pepper plants and the harvest is 10 kilogrammes per plant. The farmers' price per kilogramme of sweet yellow or red pepper costs between sh8,000 and sh10,000.

Pikeri says you can put the same number of tomato plants on the same size piece of land and experience similar high yields. "The tomato type we provide to our farmers takes longer to mature. It takes about five months. However, after the five months, one will have a constant harvest every week from each plant,' he explains.

Pikeri adds that a farmer not only gets 20 to 30 kilogrammes from each stalk, this yield also costs between sh2,000 and sh3,000 per kilogramme, way more than ordinary tomatoes on the market.

While outdoor tomatoes take three months to mature, these take two and half months. One plant can grow up to eight metres long, which is a reflection of multiple harvests.

While ordinary tomatoes have been notorious for having a short shelf life, these take 21 days. This yield is currently the best on the market. Thanks to this kit, farmers are learning to use fertilisers and not assuming that the land is fertile like they did in the past and ended up disappointed. But people are beginning to use organic and inorganic fertilisers; the same applies to pesticides.

"Greenhouse farmers are much organised. They formed an association to market their products and sell them at a fair price," Pikeri says. He says for farmers who cannot afford the famer's kit, there is an option, which does not involve a green house. It is an alternative farming drip system which covers a plot of 50x100, also all season yet cheaper to set up and maintain.

Israeli-funded trauma centre boosts Mulago By Gilbert Kidimu

Uganda registers one of the highest cases of road accidents, particularly motor accidents in the world. From the commercial vehicle travelling up-country overturning, a track running into a smaller car, the runover pedestrian, an over-speeding drunk driver who causes a head-on collision, to of course the common denominator, the thoughtless boda boda cyclist.

The orthopaedic department in Mulago hospital is thus strained because of the high number of accident cases they receive on a regular basis. Some cases involve traumatic injuries, which require a trauma centre for comprehensive emergency medical services.

Although such emergency situations have always occurred in the country for many years and the numbers have kept going up; a standard trauma centre was never available in a public hospital, not until last year.

Last year in January the state of Israel donated a trauma centre; an emergency resuscitation for severely injured people with all its facilities.

According to Enoch Kusasira, public relations officer Mulago Hospital, the centre has seven beds, five for recovery while two are resuscitation beds.

It is equipped with two monitors and seven oxygen heads, one defibrillator for reactivating head muscles, two suction machines and four ventilators used in supporting breathing. They act as temporary lungs trapping external obstacles that shouldn't get into the lungs, for example dust.

There is also an ECG machine for heart patients. It is used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats, as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart, such as a pacemaker. All this equipment is for extreme cases especially accidents, which makes it of absolute importance.

There is also an oxygen concentrator; in case oxygen is off, although this rarely happens nowadays. "This is one of our most useful facilities especially when it comes to managing emergency cases," says Kusasira adding that being the national referral hospital, there is no day that goes by without Mulago having an emergency case attended to in the trauma centre.

"This is a world class facility, one of the best you can find anywhere," he speaks of the Israeli-funded facility. Thousands of lives have thus be saved in the trauma centre.

"There are times when it is full the entire week. Many accidents happen in the country and of course most of those cases come to Mulago." All who are in critical condition and need resuscitation inevitably come to Mulago for medical attention.

A trauma centre is a hospital where patients, who are in shock or distressed from too much physical pain which also causes them psychological pain, get emergency medical attention. A trauma centre is equipped to provide comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering these traumatic injuries.

Traumatic injury is a disease process itself requiring specialized and experienced multidisciplinary treatment and specialised resources. Injuries are a leading cause of death for children and adults.

The leading causes of trauma in Uganda and world over are motor vehicle accidents, falls, and assaults. A trauma centre has trauma surgeons available, including those trained in such specialities as neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery as well as highly sophisticated medical diagnostic equipment, able to provide initial care and stabilisation of a traumatic injury. Read more

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