UGANDA – Officials from the Ministry of Local Government have beseeched the state to set up seed banks in every village in the country to facilitate access to quality seed and foster production.

Okello Douglas Peter Okao, the Omoro District LC5 chairperson made the declaration while speaking at a farmer-managed seed systems caravan and policy discourse organized by Oxfam at Bomah Hotel in Gulu City on Friday, September 29.

Okao said seeds are an engine of production and the country cannot move forward when there are no quality seeds.

Is it possible to talk about production without seed? It is not possible that is why I said quality seed is life and health,” he said

The request comes at a time when the country had expressed intent to set up a national seed company to work alongside private seed companies in a bid to provide certified and quality seeds to farmers in the country.

According to the Ministry of Local Government, there are 60,800 villages and 10,594 parishes in the country.

However, Okao noted that access to quality declared seeds is still a challenge in the country and there is a need to work together to make it accessible to farmers.

According to him, having seed banks near farmers would bridge this gap by ensuring that quality seed is accessible.

Okao also said he is in support of the institutionalization of the farmer field schools because it makes access to quality seed nearer to farmers.

He said apart from the farmer field school, he has noted that there is also a component called seed reliability specifically to deal with unreliable seeds.

On her part, Molly Ajok, a facilitator of Omoro Farmer Field School said that over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture as well as access to adequate land for farmer field schools and documentation, are among the challenges facing farmers.

She suggested that the government should support farmer field schools under seed production to register as local seed businesses

Francis Olum, the chairperson of one of the farmer field schools in Apac District, said most of the farmer field schools are producing the seeds but are not certified.

“Legally by the seed policy we cannot supply because we have to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and also strengthen partnerships with local governments,” he said.

Paul Osia, the national semi-arid Resources Research Institute, the institute responsible for generating, packaging, and disseminating appropriate agricultural production technologies, advised the farmer field schools and the district local government whenever they needed demonstration seeds to contact the institute.