Uganda eyes the apple

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The districts in south-western highlands of Uganda, including Kabale, lack a reliable perennial cash crop. Perennial crops are however positioned to provide a regular   cash income to households and contribute to better management of natural resources amidst challenges of land degradation in vulnerable landscapes. Tobacco, coffee and pyrethrum were initially introduced during the British protectorate period with frequently boosting post Independence (1962) . These efforts received excitement in Kabale but they all failed to become significant in the local economy. Among fruit crops, avocado was introduced but has remained a subsistence crop with a few farmers having a few trees in their plots. Apple development is a new initiative and embedded in a partnership between World Agroforestry (ICRAF), National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) for increasing farm income under the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA). The initiative has been heavily promoted by national and local Governments and has been received with a lot of enthusiasm and interest from farmers. This story is one of the success stories in Kabale District.

How he started

Mr. Mbarara Erick aged 63 years is a farmer and resident of Ryaruhinda village, Mukarangye ward, Katuna town council, Kabale district. He owns approximately 4 acres of apples and the most varieties grown are Anna, Winter Banana, and Golden rosette.

He started growing apples in 2001 after participating in the field trip that was organized by ICRAF –NARO. During this visit he was impressed by the activities that were going at ICRAF Bugongi  sub station. Mr. Mbarara had his own land and this land was suitable for apple growing because it was suitable. He started with only 3 tree seedlings and they did very well

In 2003, he bought 100 tree seedlings from NARO and later NAAD’s gave him more 150. He now has over 400 trees in his apple garden. These were planted in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and he keeps on harvesting. He also has apple root stock about 106 and in total he has like 506 trees

Harvesting:

He harvests 2 times a year and in a year there are two seasons.

Production per tree

Each tree produces approximately 500-860 fruits depending on size. One fruit depending on the size is

Sold at different prices

Big size is sold at 1000/=

Medium size is 500/=

Small size ( 3 fruits )sold at 1000/=

1 Kg which in most cases contains 8 or 12 fruits is sold at 5000/=

Transportation

Erick has been visited by the vice president and president of the Republic of Uganda and was impressed by the excellent Innovations  in apple growing. The president donated a vehicle –Pick up worth 15 million Uganda shillings

Seed source

Germplasm (Seed) is provided by NARO  but supplemented the farmers efforts in  grafting  his own seed from his home near the garden

Diseases

Apple growing is associated with 2 diseases, Scrub and Powdery-Orusano

Treatment: Scrub is treated by spraying with Road mill while Powdery is sprayed using Nim rod 25 EC.

Nim rod 25 EC is rare in Kabale and when got in Kabale it costs 90,000/=.Most of it is got from outside-Isreal

Other fruit trees

Erick is also involved in grape production in addition to apple fruits production

Field technician

Erick has one field technician with a diploma in Agriculture who supports his field labour and is paid on monthly basis at 200,000 per month

Marketing

At first production was low and sold slowly but now market has slightly increased and they sell to Kabale town, Kigali, Burundi, Kenya and local market especially passengers who use buses across the Katuna-Rwanda boarder

When the farmers sells he gets money and use the money to food, pay for labour and pay school fees for the children. This has enabled his family to have food through the year without problems

Problems/Challenges

  • Birds which eat the flowers. Currently using school children to scare the birds and when they go back to school will work with the wife

    · Skills in Soil testing to understand the acidity rate of the soils

    ·         Limited market. Not enough and prices are still low

    ·         Demand is low especially if production increases

    ·         Currently using inorganic fertilizer. But would prefer organic fertilizer and organic pesticide

    ·         Problem of water especially during sunshine

    ·         Very difficult to understand the type of diseases affecting the fruit

    ·         Pesticides are very expensive

Proposals by Erick

Training of farmers in soil testing, pests and diseases management

  • Exposure visit to learn more about apple growing
  • Prefer Seed from America called enterprise which is not  resistant and is not easily affected by Scrub and  Powdery

By Rick Kamugisha, Joy Tukahirwa, Denis Ashapa and  Mbarara Erick

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