Farmers together with other stakeholders in the agriculture sector have tasked the government to consider reviewing the Seed policy 2013 and include forage seed systems as a way of improving livestock nutrition and production in Uganda.
This was during farmers and stakeholders engagement at Maple leaf Hotel Masaka City on Monday which was led by the International Livestock Research Institute and Royal Tropical Institute of Netherlands which have been conducting a study on forages in Uganda and Kenya for the last two years.
According to the animal nutritionist at International Livestock Research Institute, Dr Ben Lukuyu, they are aiming at empowering small-scale farmers and all livestock farmers to establish high quality yielding forages and drought tolerant, although the Seed policy is silent on bringing new forges in Uganda.
He said there is a need for the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to expedite the review of the policy and include forages given the changing climatic conditions and pasture crisis in the country.
"The available seed policy (2013) leaves out forge which cripples our efforts to import improved forage seeds which are viable for enhancing nutrition and production in livestock," he said.
Mr Tom Vunarick, an advisor on agriculture and seed systems at Royal Tropical Institute Netherlands said they have already compiled their findings on livestock feeds and they will share the recommendations with the government.
"We are conducting a project in Uganda and Kenya called Feed and Forage business models to improve large quantities and qualities of milk production through availing enough forage and fodder for livestock consumption," he said.
He said among the high yielding and drought tolerant forages include; lablab purpureus, setaria sphacelata and Brachiaria mulato which have been introduced to improve animal nutrition as well as overcome forage scarcity. Other improved forages include; Chloris, panicum, lablab, mucuna, siratro, centrocema and fodder trees like calliandra, leucaena, gliricidia.
Mr Tumusiime Eriasto, the head of Kazo District farmers association said the law excluded farmers from seed certification which is awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture hence limiting farmers from dealing in forages which is becoming a necessity given the climatic changes and livestock feeds crisis among livestock.
Dr Woneka Derogations, the senior veterinary officer at MAAIF, said the ministry involved all stakeholders while formulating the Seed Policy but maybe the forage issue didn't come through very well.
"The MAAIF will take the issue of forage seed systems seriously because the ministry entirely supports fixing any policy gap for good of farmers," he said.