In a bid to address the escalating challenge of crop pests and diseases facing Karamoja’s transitioning farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture has partnered with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to introduce plant clinics in the region.
With the shift from cattle rearing to crop farming gaining momentum, these clinics are set to provide vital diagnosis and treatment for infected plant samples, aiming to safeguard the farmers’ livelihoods.
Karamoja, over recent years, has witnessed a surge in the number of smallholder farmers turning to crop cultivation as an alternative to their traditional cattle rearing practices. Unfortunately, this shift has come with a new set of challenges, as pests and diseases increasingly threaten the crop yields that are central to these farmers’ sustenance and prosperity.
Meri Jino, the LC5 Chairperson of Kaabong, stressed the severity of the issue.
“Pests and diseases are becoming a huge threat to these farmers, thus reducing crop yields,” she said.
To combat this critical issue, the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with FAO inaugurated Plant Clinics throughout Karamoja an innovative approach that draws parallels to medical facilities for animals and humans, but with a focus on addressing plant health.
Martin Ameu, a Programme Associate at FAO, emphasized the purpose of the Plant Clinics, explaining that they are intended to diagnose and treat plant diseases, as well as control and avert the damaging effects of pests.
Moding Simon Peter, a dedicated farmer from Lomukura, experienced the benefits of the Plant Clinic firsthand. In a visit to the clinic situated in Kotido district, he presented a sample of his Sorghum plant that had fallen victim to diseases, seeking analysis and treatment to rescue his crop.
A comprehensive training initiative has equipped 74 Agriculture extension workers with the skills needed to manage the plant clinics set to be rotated across the districts in the Karamoja region, ensuring comprehensive coverage to provide early warnings and effective responses to the escalating challenges posed by crop pests and diseases.
John Lodungokol, the Assistant Commissioner of Crop Production at the Ministry of Agriculture, highlighted the importance of this endeavor.
“The establishment of Plant Clinics will significantly enhance our ability to detect and respond to the threats of crop pests and diseases.” Stated John
The clinics are equipped with cutting-edge digital equipment that aids in screening and identifying the extent of damage caused by pests and diseases.
Eko Penina, a plant doctor involved in the initiative, expressed the significance of this technological aspect in providing accurate and timely assistance to farmers.
As Karamoja’s farmers navigate the transition from cattle rearing to crop farming, the launch of plant clinics offers a glimmer of hope in combating the detrimental impact of crop pests and diseases.
This collaborative effort between the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO underscores the commitment to preserving the livelihoods of the region’s smallholder farmers, fostering resilience and growth in the face of emerging challenges.
Source; Nile Post