Malakwang that has been eaten by the glow worm in Lira market. Photo by Prossy Nandudu
Due to lack of extension services farmers have failed to control the pests and diseases that have invaded their vegetable gardens which are one of the sources of income.
One of the pests has been identified is the glow worm which eats up all the leaves, leaving the plants without leaves.
And the disease that affects tomatoes has been nicknamed ?bola bola? copied from the Ebola disease which they say kills the plant as soon as it attacks.
Cidolo Okello one of the affected farmers explains that a plant that has been attacked by the bola bola disease wilts and eventually drops off.
He revealed this to a team of farming journalists who visited farmers growing African Indigenous vegetables like Malakwang, Jute mallow, Alayu (crotralia), Spide plant (Akeyo), pumpkin, vegetable cowpea (boo), Okra among others in Kole district.
The journalists were in the northern districts to find out the potential in vegetable growing, challenges and the nutritional values of eating vegetables as part for CABI?s good seed initiative.
35 year old Cidolo Okello of Ajokawello village, Alito subcounty, has been growing vegetable for the last 10 years, but has never been visited by any extension worker to help him understand what is happening to their crops.
The same problem has been experienced by three other farmers in the village dealing in the same vegetables.
Apart from pests and diseases, farmers lack storage facilities, have no skill in adding value as a result vegetables that are not sold that very day are thrown away in addition to bad roads from Kole to Lira town market where they sell their vegetables from.
Geoffrey Otim, from the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) explained that farmers lack the services because they are dealing in vegetables that are considered orphaned by researchers.
?When we say orphaned we mean those that have been there but people haven?t been seeing much value in theme as a result little attention in terms of research has been given to some of such crops,? said Otim.
He explained that the Malakwang is one of the most affected because its scent and taste attracts leafy pests that bore holes on the leaves like the glow worm.
While the bola bola which he identified as tomato bacterial wilt is a viral infection which if attacks destroys all the plants in a short while.
Odong also blames farmers for not approaching research institutions for assistance for the case of Kole; Ngeta ZARD is the nearest point of assistance.
?Since researchers are very busy and few, while some are constrained by limited funds, its better if the farmers come to the stations and explain their problems for them to be considered otherwise when they keep quiet nobody will know there is a problem,? he added.
Otim said that the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) working with Centre for Biosciences International (CABI ) are working some farmers to produce quality seed of some of the selected vegetables.
They are the same vegetables that researchers under NARO are considering for further research they include pigeon pease, malakwang to be multiplied, certified and sold locally to increase access to quality seed.
Some of the control measures should take includes planting disease free and materials, in addition other practices such as crop rotation and seeking advice from qualified people in case of a problem on the farm, adds Odong.
By Prossy Nandudu, The New Vision