NAADS Trains 560 Tractor Operators in preparation for distribution of tractors
23-year-old Namale Jovia is full of excitement as she climbs the big tractor to demonstrate the skills she has attained during a two weeks training of tractor operators at Kyera Agricultural College in Nyamitanga Isingiro district.
Namale is one of the only three women out of the 36 tractor operators that were passed out on Wednesday 7th November 2019 after undergoing practical training in tractor operation and basic maintenance organized by the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in preparation for the distribution of tractors.
Namale was nominated by Kasamba Farmer Agro Enterprise located in Kakuuto Sub County in Kyotera district to participate in the training of tractor operators. The Diploma holder in Crop Production and Management from Bukalasa Agriculture College says since her childhood she admired her father who was a tractor driver.
“Since childhood, I loved driving a tractor but my father would not let me touch it, so when this opportunity came I took advantage and now I have attained a tractor operating permit”, explained the excited Namale
Nalame says, in the beginning, she had a lot of fear since she was the only woman among 33 men and had not driven a tractor before like other trainees. The other two women joined the training later. However, with time she gained the confidence and with the support of the men in the group she can now operate the tractor very well, do the ploughing and harrowing with ease.
Tractor Operators after acquiring their certificates
The training at Kyera attracted tractor operators from the districts of Kyotera, Rakai, Lwengo, Masaka, Kamwenge, Kyegegwa, Kitagwenda and Kasese districts.
The Government of Uganda through NAADS procured 280 tractors and implements to be availed to farming communities across the country. The tractors are currently kept at Namalere Mechanization Workshop in Kampala awaiting distribution to the farmer beneficiaries. The initiative by the Government of Uganda is aimed at mechanizing Uganda’s agriculture.
Dr. Samuel Mugasi the Executive Director of NAADS says they received 641 applications from 117 District Local Governments out of which 66 Nucleus farmers, 209 Farmer organizations and 2 District Local Governments were allocated tractors. The allocations were done according to Operational guidelines for tractor access and management.
The Operational Guidelines provide four models of tractor management; Nucleus Farmer, Contracted, Government owned and operated and the Farmers organisation model.
Dr. Mugasi says in order to ensure sustainable utilisation of the tractors, 560 tractors (two operators per tractor) are currently undergoing training before the tractors are handed over to the beneficiaries.
The training is being conducted in 16 sessions at 8 stations. The training stations are; Nabuin (Napak), Abi (Arua), Ngetta (Lira), Bulindi (Hoima), Mukono (Mukono), Ikulwe Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institutes (ZARDIs) and Kyera Agricultural Training Institute, Isingiro District. The training which started on 21st October 2019 will end on 7th February 2020.
The training is conducted by experts from Engineering Solutions Uganda Ltd and Cooper Motors Uganda Ltd who supplied Government with the tractors.
While passing out the first batch of the trainees, the Principal of Kyera Agricultural College Baingana Silver implored the tractor operators not to be selfish but share the knowledge and skills attained with other members in their farmer associations.
The representative of MAAIF Eng. James Kasozi Tondo said the initiative to mechanize agriculture is aimed at increasing the cultivated acreage and increased production for food security and increased income generation.
After the training, tractors will be handed over to the beneficiaries.
According to NAADS, the beneficiaries will be responsible for maintaining the tractors according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and manuals. For the period under warranty, the suppliers or agents of suppliers of tractors will carry out routine tractor service and maintenance of the tractors. The supplier/dealer will be responsible for provision of aftersales network to support all supplied equipment in a timely, efficient and cost effective manner.
A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the Tractor beneficiary, MAAIF, NAADS and the District Local Governments. Monitoring and supervision of utilisation of the tractors will be done by DLGs/MAAIF/NAADS according to the Operational guidelines for tractor access and management.
Dr. Mugasi says the tractors to be distributed have a capacity of between 47 Horse power and 60 Horse power with each tractor costing between shs.60m to shs.70m.