Mechanization: A kick-start to agricultural prosperity.

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…

Low commercial agricultural levels are predominant in Uganda.

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…

Hindrances to the prosperity of the agricultural sector in Uganda.

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…

Digital skills: Essential in this day and age.

Of recent, the International Telecommunications Union estimated that about 3.5 billion people, or almost half of the world’s population will be online in the next year or so. Of these people, about 2 billion will be from developing countries including 89 million from the least developed countries in the world.

“The evolution of mobile phones has not only revolutionalised the way people communicate, but it has also shaped the way people do business all over the world. Many people are increasingly investing in the business which is growing every successive day.” Prosper Magazine.

With this background information, the scope of opportunities that we can tap into will only be limited by our digital skills and knowledge.

Are you willing to acquire digital skills inorder to make productive use of the internet and your mobile phones?

Poor spending habits: A major cause of the vicious cycle of borrowing.

Yesterday, I came across a very interesting article in the Daily Monitor Newspaper regarding peoples’ spending habits. I found it related to my previous article titled “Living within our means for a better tomorrow” and was therefore prompted to share it with you this day.

The phrase, “Failing to make ends meet ” is common in Uganda and it means that a person has got into a pattern where their income does not cover the money they spend month after month. In our book, “Make Sense of Your Money” we describe this situation as having more months at the end of the money- meaning the salary gets finished several days before the next pay cheque. 

Recently, a group of people attending a personal money management course that I was facilitating shared with me their major spending mistakes;

Living above means was a major spending mistake mentioned, for instance having expenses to an amount that is twice your income. Another was relying on anticipated income i.e one of the participants said his biggest spending mistake arose out of spending money in anticipation of future income. However, the most common mistake was  the “What will people say syndrome” where several participants said their spending mistake was that they spent money out of fear of the opinion of other people and they cited several examples to illustrate this issue. By James Abola.

Astala vista…

Integrity: A virtue essential for personal and national economic development.

Yesterday, I was part of a market place convention held in Kampala, Uganda. This convention is held once every year and brings together Christians from different walks of life in the job market. For instance, some of the companies that were represented included Renault car company,Insurance Company of East Africa (ICEA), to mention but a few.

The theme for the night was Facing the Giants with the guest speaker being Mrs. Angela Kirabwire from Capital Markets Authority, Uganda. This convention is aimed at empowering christians with knowledge and skills required to prosper and leave a mark in whichever field they encounter. It also offers an opportunity for people to interact, network, and make connections in the job market.

Individuals who have been in the field of work for a long time (20 years or so) are given a platform to share their stories and experience in the job market. They also talk about the challenges encountered, how they handled them, as well as the crucial lessons learnt in the due process. This is meant to provide mentorship to the young graduates and those just starting out in their careers.

Mrs. Angela Kirabwire took the stage and put the theme of the night “Facing the Giants” into context using her story of about 20 years in the job market. She ably illustrated various scenarios in which she had been put in very compromising situations involving graft, bribery and corruption in its ultimate description. Angella then added that she stood firm by her values of Integrity inspite of the insurmountable consequences.

She later on emphasised the importance of giving our best and working diligently however small the tasks at hand seem to be. This lays a firm foundation on which we can slowly and progressively build our careers.

True economic development starts with people in the economy, and Integrity is a core value eessential for personal development.

If only every individual were to steward their resources faithfully, our economy would grow and develop exponentially!

Importance of forests with regards to food security.

My sense is that the most under-appreciated and perhaps most under-researched linkages between forests and food security are the roles that forest-based ecosystem services play in underpinning sustainable agricultural production. Forests regulate hydrological services including the quantity, quality, and timing of water available for irrigation. Forests mitigate the impact of climate change and extreme weather events at the landscape scale. Frances Seymour, Center for International Forestry Research.

Until next time…

Agriculture: Could be a gold mine for the youth in Uganda.

Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy with majority (both crops and livestock) on small farms for food and cash income, and on fairly large farms including ranches. The major livestock species include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, and poultry. From an economic point view, cattle are the most important livestock with significant contributions, though to a lesser extent from goats and sheep.

The major food crops in Uganda have been plaintains, millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, corn, beans, and groundnuts. Over 80% of the population relies upon agriculture for its livelihood. This however doesnot reflect in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That is, most of the people in Uganda are involved in some way with agriculture , but they constitute a very small portion of the nation’s GDP.

This is evident in my neighborhood, just the other day, a friend of mine was telling me how almost every household has a small shamba(garden) in their backyard. These have vegetables, a few cassava stems, and fruits. Nonetheless, these shambas are on a very small scale which doesnot adequately satisfy the community, let alone national demand. The farming systems and practices are also fairly homogeneous and rudimentary with the locals using tools like pangas, hand-hoes, and slashers.

If only more emphasis and investment is put in the agricultural sector, it will play a huge role in curbing the ridiculous unemployment rates in Uganda (8 out of every 10 graduates are unemployed!) The sector could absorb these youths into different stages of the agricultural process i.e ploughing, planting, harvesting, marketing, etc.

In my opinion, agriculture if managed properly could be a sector flowing with milk and honey!

Until next time…