By Ismail Bategeka
MASINDI: Professor Samuel Majalija the former Deputy Principal Makerere College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity has transformed his remote Rukondwa village in Bikonzi Sub County Bujenje Constituency Masindi district.
Majalija who is a lecturer at Makerere University in the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department in an interview with ugreports.com said that he felt concerned after farmers in his village were growing hand to mouth food which he termed as “agriculture of simple peasants.”
‘’I wanted my fellow farmers to shift from subsistence to entrepreneurial and commercial farming,’’ he said.
Majalija who decided to offer free farmer training to his fellow farmers established his farm on four acre land rearing 100 pigs and over 2,000 goats and has become a full-time farmer.
The decision attracted a lot of criticism from villagers, who doubted if a professor would adjust to rural poverty after tasting urban affluence.
‘’Agriculture transformation in my village is still in progress, and people are willing to embrace the change and I’m expecting to create change in my community,’’ Majalija said.
He also disclosed that he trains and advises farmers on his 10 acre farm from different parts of the district.
Professor Majalija is one of the most successful farmers in Masindi district and lead farmer in his village.
‘’I spent all my savings from my previous job on my farm and I have no regrets for investing in this farm, many farmers have acquired knowledge and skills from the training I organize,’’ he told ugreports.
According to the professor, climatic change is still a challenge affecting the animal rearing, lack of modern rearing methods, pests, and diseases are among other challenges that affect the smooth flow of his rearing activities.
‘’I will be the happiest to see my village and district regain its lost glory of being the country’s meat and food basket. It is a shame for us to cry for relief, yet we have fertile soils and good rearing methods,’’ Majalija stated.
According to Majalija, low rearing productivity and limited adoption of new animal rearing technologies by farmers are key development challenges in the country but with this farmer-to-farmer training program, will improve farmers’ knowledge, productivity, and revenues.
Mr. Ayesiga Francis, a farmer with 93 pigs in Rukondwa village told ugreports.com that one possible reason for limited technology adoption is that farmers may find it difficult to learn about new technologies on their own.
“Government has invested in agricultural extension services to share information about new agricultural technologies with the farmers because traditional extension services have not consistently had an impact on farmer behaviour and tend to reach only a few farmers,’’ Ayesiga said.
According to Ayesiga, Majalija training farmers at zero cost is aimed at lifting smallholder farmers out of poverty by boosting their production.
According to Mr. Musuli Lostico, a farmer in Rukondwa village the farmer training has enabled him to rear 200 local breed chickens, and he expects three millions at the time of selling them.
Mr. Muhumuza Joshua, a dairy farmer in Masindi explains that he was previously rearing goats, but the three times he attended Professor Majalija’s free training he has also ventured in pig rearing.
“I have been afraid to rear pigs because of fear of the ready market, but when we establish a pig rearing group we shall have enough bargaining power,’’ he said.
Professor Majalija asserts that the farmers in Masindi have acquired knowledge on improved feeding and rearing practices and have adopted improved feeding practices, resulting in higher levels of production in the neighbouring villages of Rukondwa.
‘’This voluntary farmer training program has increased the knowledge of farmers who can transfer knowledge to other farmers. Farmers rearing animals can adopt their rearing and agricultural practices to include new technologies, resulting in increased production,” he said.
According to Majalija, the farmer-to-farmer training model can be an effective approach to agricultural extension, especially when reinforced by an existing formal extension system.
He says there is a ready market of animals reared if the farmers can form a group to look for a common market.
“It’s better we establish groups of people rearing animals and have the same voice in looking for better markets for our products,” he suggested.
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