The Homerun: If you’re willing, then it’s possible.

The homerun obstacle race was scheduled for late last month and I was so looking forward to it. Unfortunately, a few days prior to the race I got sick and started second guessing my participation. This run was meant to demonstrate the challenges that refugees face while fleeing their home countries, usually in small families. Some of the challenges included delays in documentation, language barrier, tiresome routes, hostile and unfamiliar cultures. Manoeuvring through barbed wire fences, climbing over walls, crawling through muddy fields were also simulated.

The day before the race, just after deciding not to participate, I got a pep-talk from a close friend who successfully convinced me to change my mind. However, there was one problem, I didn’t have a family to run with. “Hey James, am looking for a team, can I join yours?” a colleague asked me. “Hey, I don’t have one, but we could create our own.” I responded. “Cool, let’s do that.” he added. A minute or two later, four ladies walk up to us and say; “Hey guys, is it alright if you adopt us into your family?” “Yes, of course!” we were quick to respond. We then formed an adopted family named it Samuka and hit the road.

During the race, there were times when I felt like sprinting but some family members were exhausted. So, we all had to reduce our pace and run as a family. At some point, it became more of a home walk given that we resorted to walk a good portion of the distance. Then came the obstacles! Hardly could we hold our breaths, when we encountered the next obstacle. Our mental strength was challenged, our bodies were pushed to the limit, we got agitated, but we’re willing to go all the way. When we couldn’t sprint, we jogged, when we couldn’t jog, we walked, when we couldn’t walk, well, we rested a bit, the ladies took a couple of selfies then we marched on.

Just when we thought the obstacles were done, there was the mud-crawl looking right in our faces. The whole family was quite skeptical about doing the mud-crawl given that some of us didn’t have a change of clothes, and the thought of walking through town all muddy was simply unbearable. Luckily, one of us had a change of heart and decided to take one for the family. Inspite of the occasional hiccups along the way, we managed to reach the finish line because we were willing.

Obstacles and hurdles that are often times impossible to anticipate disorganize our plans and divert us from our goals. Nevertheless, we should be flexible enough to adjust our plans whenever necessary, be willing to extend a helping hand and take one for the team. Above all, we need to develop a character of resilience, an attitude of never giving up.

It’s not how many obstacles we may hit and fall that matter, but how many times we are willing to get back up when we do.

If you’re willing, then it’s possible!

Until next time…

Development starts from within us.

I usually take walks along the streets of Kampala everyday after work. Last Friday proved to be one of a kind, mostly because I was accompanied by an enchanting and brilliant young lady. Momentarily, a conversation ensued between us in which I got fully immersed. Just across the street, there sat an able bodied man who was clad in rugged clothes with arms stretched out begging the passers-by. “Mpaako kikumi!!” (Give me one hundred shillings!!)” He repeatedly begged. “Ariz, do you think that guy over there has aspirations for the future?” I asked Ariz signalling towards his direction. “Uhmm, I highly doubt that, at least based on what I see.” Ariz responded. “Honestly speaking, I think having aspirations for his future, let alone pursuing them is the last thing on his mind. All he cares about right now is his next meal and possibly where he’s going to spend the night.” She added.

When I saw this guy begging, it got me thinking of the many young men and women in Uganda and across Africa who relate with him in one way or another. Some even have the privilege of University education but are still indifferent from the street man. They are sitted on their potential gifts and talents at home doing nothing productive. Apparently, most youths believe that personal development is a waste of time and energy. This is largely because of the mindset they have adopted from their societies. They don’t value their self worth and also don’t have mentors to emulate in that regard. Therefore, the whole idea of building human capital is an aspect so alien to pursue.

Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop skills and talents, facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations. These activities are more often than not disguised in service, that is, opting to be selfless inspite of the qualifications and certificates that we hold. I believe that we ought to look beyond ourselves, because the abilities that we possess aren’t for us to just keep in our minute and pocket-sized worlds, but rather to give of ourselves and create a positive difference in our localities and in the lives of those we are privileged enough to encounter.

When we begin to serve with a passion regardless of the field we are in, the need for personal development becomes inevitable. That way, we become vessels of change and a means to development rather than an end in itself. Better yet, pursuing something bigger than self opens doors for a great yearning coupled by an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and wisdom. Eventually, development becomes an adventure worth taking on.

An orator once said; “To every individual, there comes that one opportune moment when you are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and given a task specifically tailored to your gifts and talents. What a shame when that moment finds you unprepared or unqualified!”

In which category do you belong?

Until next time…

Artificial Intelligence: Reality of a jobless future.

Econsimplified

After completing campus (University studies), the dream of every graduate is to get a job and apply the knowledge that we have amassed. We spend sleepless nights perfecting our CVs, making numerous job applications, and then dropping them off one office at a time.

Finally, when that lucky break manifests and we get a job, we celebrate and start building a career!

Meanwhile, these celebrations could be short lived with Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming the norm in not only the developed but also the developing countries.

With the current tough financial times, every employer would wish to reduce expenses and operate at the lowest possible costs without necessarily undermining the quality of his/her product.The advance of Artificial Intelligence in the work-place is gradually making this wish come true, with prospects of not having to pay salaries and allowances.

Recent studies by Carl Benedict and Michael Osborne examined the probability of…

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Dare to live today!

Putting things off is the biggest waste of life. It snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live in the present!~Seneca.

Until next time folks…

The state of Economics today.

I am always fascinated by the prospect of discovering a new definition of economics and its role in shaping the dynamics of our society. Some of you are probably still caught up in a maze of figuring out what this phenomenon called “Economics” actually is.

A number of people perceive it differently and therefore have varying views on this subject. Some say economics is a way of life, others say its a science that enables society to utilise scarce resources by making decisions based on individual preferences.

When asked, a colleague of mine just narrowed it down to being some complex subject having lots of incomprehensible jargon, that is apparently only meant for the “elite economist!” Well, I beg to defer. I believe that economics is meant for everybody. From the lady vending maize along the streets to the tycoon owning a number of shopping malls in town, from the illiterate kid digging somewhere in a shamba to the rich kid anxiously waiting for the release of IPhone 8! The only difference is that all these individuals look at economics through varying lenses.

Recently, while chatting with some friends of mine, an interesting topic came up involving economics, its evolution and subsequent impact on our society over the years. We were later on joined by a fellow who was quite learned and knowledgeable in economics based on the thoughts he shared. What stood out for me was his argument that economic knowledge without political power in this day and age is hardly effective. He then posed an intriguing question; “Is economics dead?” To which we all responded almost in unison “No! Ofcourse not!” “Economics cannot die, it’s part of life!” One of us added.

Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, economics has been put in an ideological box and maliciously suffocated by the major players who use power backed by their selfish and myopic interests. As a result, key policy decisions that affect the multitudes are taken by the minority.

Ironically, most of the interest groups have no clue that this is actually happening!

Bye for now…

Relevant research is important for prosperity of the agricultural sector.

We need to strengthen research for efficiently produced healthy food, while ensuring the availability of food at affordable prices. Finding out things like how much and how long it costs to produce a given crop, the available market say in a given region go a long way in ensuring that there’s efficiency in production.

With this information, the farmers are also able to concentrate on cultivating crops in which they have a comparative advantage as compared to those in the neighbouring countries.

“It’s no coincidence that in countries where agriculture has taken off there have been large investments in research and infrastructure.” Kanayo Nwawce, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. (IFAD)

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…