Before the tables turned, Mukono farmers were mostly known for putting much emphasis on fishing and vanilla production. Lately, it is mostly subsistence farming eating up the district that is also gradually turning into a habitant for urban dwellers.
Simply put, Mukono now has to contend with the pressure of becoming urbanised and at the same time contribute to the food security of the country.
It is that desire to attain balance, and the urge to reawaken the farming ethics of Mukono agribusiness entrepreneurs that organisers - Nation Media Group (NMG) and National Coffee Research Institute (NaCORI) are heading to the district at Kituza on October 12. According to Barbra Prossy Nambooze, the NaCORI spokesperson, cocoa, coffee and bananas will form the three enterprises they want participants to put much emphasis on.
"The meetings with concerned stakeholders are still on to see what other vital ventures we can add on cocoa, coffee and banana farming. I can assure you most of the required learning facilities are in place for the big session," Nambooze stressed.
Cocoa is a perennial crop that responds well in rainy tropical areas, with a maximum annual average of 30 - 32ºC. It thrives under shades and in areas with annual rainfall between 1,500mm to 2,000mm.
According to International Cocoa Organisation, it grows in countries lying between 10 degrees north and 10 degrees south of the equator.
It does well in soil containing coarse particles with a reasonable quantity of soil nutrients to a depth of 1.5m to allow the development of a good root system.
"Cocoa is the second top most income earner for the country. We aim at creating awareness amongst the people so that they can think about growing the crop again," Nambooze added.
She says NaCORI has the national mandate to teach farmers about coffee and cocoa and that they are going to line up the best experts at teaching the two cash crops.
"We all know that coffee is the top most income earner for Uganda. We have lined up 10 different improved coffee breeds that we wish to share with the farmers that day. We want the farmers to get rid of the traditional methods of coffee farming and embrace the new technologies. We are going to teach about the disease management and the disadvantage of spraying pesticides on coffee yet we target the world market," Nambooze explains.
Bananas vs coffee
In years gone by, banana production coexisted with coffee production until there was an increment in diseases and pests attacking both. NaCORI experts have promised a ray of hope by lining up intercropping techniques that will ensure farmers can carry out both lucrative ventures and the same time contribute to the national food security.