Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. Only in the darkness can you see the stars. When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope. ~Pittacus Lore.
Inadequate agricultural mechanization is one of the biggest hindrances to transforming Uganda’s agriculture from subsistence to commercial agriculture. The director of National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), Dr. Godfrey Asea, recently said that 99.4% of small scale farmers in Uganda use rudimentary and obsolete technologies in agriculture, having tools like hand hoes, hand held axes, shovels, and slashers. Such tools make the cultivation process i.e slashing, digging, sowing of seeds and harvesting very tiresome and frustrating for the farmers. As a result, they end up tilling less land with low productivity.
The introduction and use of machines makes farming much easier than using manual labor. For instance tractors have components like the planter used for planting seeds, fertilizer operators, an irrigation engine, and manure spreader. Other farm tools like grain invaders are used during the harvesting process to pour seeds in silos, and the hay baler is used for parking hay in bales. In addition, these machines also increase the average cultivated farm land per day or in a given time period. This therefore enhances productivity by a great deal.
Modern agricultural mechanization is the way to go because by using mechanized tools, farmers will be able to reap high quantities of improved crop yields. Their household incomes will grow by leaps and bounds as the surplus available for sale will also be in larger quantities. On the other hand, the usual practice of using manual labor and rudimentary tools is rather time wasting and produces low yields.
Until next time…
Close to 70% of Uganda’s homesteads, that is, aproximately 7 out of every 10 homesteads are not in the money economy. Many families still belong to the pre-capitalist mode of production where people do not produce for money but just for eating and social obligations.
Therefore, despite the fact that majority of the people are involved in agriculture, most of them only practice subsistence farming. This type of farming is a major setback to the prosperity of the sector. There is limited production since all the farmers think about is getting enough harvest to feed their families. As a result, the farmers cannot take advantage of increased demand both at home and in the neighbouring countries in times of scarcity.
The room for profit making in such an environment is quite narrow. Potential investors can hardly give it their time and attention since they are mostly profit-minded. Our potential to export agricultural products like potatoes, beans, grains, milk and its products has also been subsequently undermined. The small scale farmers should be educated and encouraged to look at farming with a broader perspective that is not only limited to consumption.
If only the farmers in Uganda would adapt to commercial farming, there would be a ripple effect on the agricultural sector and entire economy.
Until next time folks…
Agriculture has been the back bone of Uganda’s economy for ages. Recent statistics show that over 80% of Uganda’s population is employed at some stage in the agricultural sector. However, the benefits and direct contribution to the economy are yet to be fully derived and enjoyed by the populous involved in this trade.
While doing research on agriculture in Uganda, I found that the following are some of the major hindrances to the prosperity of this sector. Low commercial agricultural levels, lack of linkage between research and farmers, lack of agricultural machinery, pests and diseases, low level of value addition, land fragmentation, high cost of finance, and the poorly structured transport network.
In my next articles, I will explore in detail some of the elements that have continuously held Uganda back in terms of agricultural growth and development.
Until next time…