Government has launched the construction of a Regional Agricultural Mechanization Center in Mbale district worth Shillings 3.2Billion. The Bungokho Zonal Agriculture Mechanization Center in Bungokho Sub County will promote the commercialization of agriculture and creates jobs for the youths Bugisu, Sebei, Bukedi and Teso sub-regions.
The Mechanization Center will also host excavators, self-loading trucks, heavy earth-moving equipment, bulldozers and Mobile Mechanization Workshop for use by farmers in the region. Trained operators and Senior Agricultural Engineers whose role is to provide advisory and maintenance services as well as coordination with the farmer groups will be posted to the centre.
Boniface Okanya, the Assistant Commissioner of Engineering and Mechanization in the Ministry of Agriculture noted that the ministry intends to build 18 more centres across the country beginning with four major including Dokolo, Masaka, Kiryandongo and Mbale districts.
Okanya says that the purpose of the centers is to bring services closer to the farmers who had previously had a low uptake of new farming technologies.
While commissioning the center in Mbale on Tuesday, Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry said the current drive to boost Agricultural Mechanization is a major step by the Government towards implementing the National Development Plan. He also said that the ministry plans to reclaim government land that used to host stock farms and zonal agricultural institutes and has been grabbed or encroached on by individuals.
Tumwebaze also warned extension officers in different parts of the country against neglecting their roles. Ezra Masoloki, a farmer and the Project Manager of Trees for the Future, a Non-Governmental Organisation in the Eastern Region, hopes that the center will enable farmers to learn and adapt new agricultural skills. Masoloki says that the farmers should be sensitized on how to use the machinery to improve their yields.
Muhammad Mafabi, the LC V Chairperson of Mbale District, says that the mechanization center will expand the production and productivity of the people in the region being farmers. He added that as the district leadership, they will monitor its progress to ensure efficiency.
The Mbale based Agriculture Mechanization Center becomes the second to be opened to the public after the one that was opened in Dokolo district meant for the Northern Region last year.