Prof. Samwuel Kyamanywa and Rev Ebukalin celebrate after cutting the cake
Farmers in Eastern Uganda get Drought Tolerant sorghum variety MK60
Farmers in the Eastern district of Serere, Palisa, Kumi and Bukedea have got a new sorghum variety MK 60 that is not only drought resistant but also early maturing and high yielding than existing local varieties.
Researchers at Makerere University have been carrying out research in partnership with farmers since 2005.The research work was funded by Bio - Innovate and McKnight Foundation in partnership with P'KWI.
One of the experimental gardens in Bukedea
Speaking during the Field day to unveil the new sorghum variety on July 14, 2012 at Malera sub county in Bukedea district, the Lead Researcher, Dr. Patrick Okori said the innovation was developed on reason that the existing varieties of sorghum in the country were not high yielding giving less than one tone per hectare as compared to those grown in other countries that yield up to 10 tons per hectare.
“We have a high population competing for maize and we developed white sorghum to act as maize. The material can be used to develop ice cream cones, produce animal and poultry feeds and to begin industrial scale production”, Dr Okori said.
Lead researcher Dr. Patrick Okori speaking to journalists in an experimental garden
He said despite the fact that Uganda is endowed with rich fertile soils , rich people and researchers who can think of solving their own problems, many people go to bed on empty stomachs and are still poverty stricken.
Dr. Okori said the idea was to partner with farmers to produce sorghum varieties as a source of food and income generation so that agriculture can be looked as a business rather than a subsistence undertaking.
He said, 40 varieties were released to the farmers in Eastern Uganda and 300 hundred farmers selected MK 60 because of its good yields and shortness making it easy to harvest. “MK 60 is about 1 m and 20 cm tall and it can give you 11- 12 tons per hectare and it is liked because it matures early than any cultivated variety”. Other varieties include the white seeded sorghum for beef and poultry feeds and the red seeded sorghum for food.
The university is partnering with P’KWI, a cooperative within the villages that works with 2,500 home steads that will help communities access the new varieties through their network. As a new strategy the college will introduce a new technology on how to get information from scientist to farmers via the mobile phones.
The partnership with P’KWI was sealed during the function where the Ag. Principal Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa and Manager P’KWI Rev. Ebukalin Sam cut the cake to symbolize their wedding.
Rev. Ebukalin said the organization started with 13 farmers in 1993 after the insurgency in Teso sub region and the return of the people from camps to help them address the problem of housing and food. “We are promoting household development mix enterprise management and value addition for example when the researchers produce, we process the products, work with Makerere on farms and participate in selecting breeds. We want Makerere to help us what other value added products we can get from this variety”. He said.
Sealing the relationship: Manager P'KWI and Ag. Principal Light candles before cutting the cake
Closing the function the Ag. Principal Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa said the event signified Makerere's commitment to take the university to the grass root imploring participants to strengthen the collaborative linkages to share products and services.
“The success we are seeing in sorghum will depend on the adoption environment. We would want to see everybody grow this variety and in future we want to work with you to have the markets, reduce losses in store and add value to what we are doing in this country”. Prof. Kyamanywa expressed the college commitment to bring technologies to the farmers.
He thanked farmers, P’KWI and the lead researcher for working together and organizing the function.