Farming in Uganda has been the major economic activity that has been employing the biggest number of Ugandans. It is very logical to accept the fact that though majority of Ugandans are employed under this sector, many of them are still struggling with poverty. Rural farmers are generally people staying outside the town and operating on farms for example, grow food, keeping cattle, run piggery projects, grow passion fruits, coffee among others like poultry keeping. All they do is to make sure they support and feed those people staying in towns. All the food staffs we find in shops, markets, supermarkets, hotels and restaurant are supplied by rural farmers both on large and small scale. Farmers would be better off economically than any other person; be it a teacher, doctor, retailers and wholesalers, nurses among other professions because they are the only people who provide services that are consumed by everyone regardless of economic status, religion, political status, sex, age, race among other differences worldwide.
However, it is interesting if not surprising to see that they are the people living a very humble life. They are the ones whose children study in unheard of schools; UPE schools. Their children cannot afford good treatment. Sometimes their children are malnourished due to lack of a balanced diet. It is really sad. Who has ever tried to look at the life of the farmer in the process of producing what we always consume? Small scale rural farmers are always not that modernly adoptive to change in technology. Most of them are still using hand hoes for farming and a few use tractors due to reasons ranging from locations, land, capital among other reasons and these people work on their farms every day from morning to evening, ploughing, mulching, planting, irrigating, harvesting, drying among all the process of making food ready for the urban dwellers to consume.
Others are busy grazing from morning to evening, and doing all that they do. They go through a lot and sometimes spend more than their sweat. Despite all the hardships, they make it. But the reasons why they remain poor are attributed to things but not limited to them such as. Lack of saving, poor pricings, duplicated farming supplies like seeds, pesticides among others. Should we say that farmers only farm for consumption, or should we say they enjoy living in a poor state or should we say NAADS didn’t do anything or should we say operation wealth creation hasn’t started its operations? This is still and will always be debatable before the ruling government and governments to come unless the real problems affecting rural farmers are defined. We have heard sayings that helping people with their problems is good but more important if people learn how to solve their problems.
There are questions I believe policy analysts, responsible persons and departments concerned with agricultural development keep on asking themselves every day why things do not change or happen the way they expect them to happen. There are debatable thoughts asto whether there are limitations to adopted policies and strategies as to why things do not go well. The same reasons why we have had changes in NAADs and final operation wealth creation are all in line of developing rural farmers.
But the question is, are there drastic changes of improvements in the lives of majority rural farmers? Looking at the objective of operation wealth creation, they are very clear and very developmental but, I say they will always remain in paper work, theories. Unless the real problems affecting farmers are clearly defined, so then shall they be developed with workable and realistic policies. I believe wealth creation can bear me witness because they have already encountered challenges in their operations in developing farmers through poverty reduction strategies. The services offered are either not appreciated in some places and in some places where they are appreciated things haven’t gone well. But of course, we cannot blame wealth creation because, they really do a lot to have farmers developed, but it is just that in most cases, they address things farmers need not or they provide what they think farmers want but which is not of course in their interests. How is the production of rural farmers? Farmers have encountered very many challenges both caused by natural and artificial factor. We all know that the weather has changed over time and draught hits so hard the crops of farmers and in most cases, even animals are affected due to challenges of water. However, it is practically very unrealistic for us to believe that irrigation goes as far as villages. I have been in several rural outskirts of Uganda, Bukedea, Manafwa, Bududa, Mpigi, Sironko and other places but I haven’t seen where rural farmers apply irrigation in dry seasons. So, however much the government tries to improvise new varieties of seeds to farmers, when the problem of draught is not addressed, it is all songs.
Majority of rural farmers have heard about saving but if they know that saving is only with money but not anything else. So, what happens is that there is much wasted on sales and consumption. In villages, it is very common to find a family cooking a full sauce pan of beans as if there is no tomorrow. A person cooks what he/she will not finish from harvest to planting. At the time one needs to plant, he she realizes that there is not even enough left for planting.
Most of them are alcohol addicts who sale the little they have at just a take away price regularly and at the end or even before the season for harvesting is over, you find that the person has nothing to support the family. However, the government should emphasize food security through mandatory savings just like in the old days where people used to have granaries where they would store their food for future use. Due to lack of saving culture in people today, they have ended up giving whatever they produce at a take away price, a price that cannot develop them. For example, there are many unfavorable prices tagged on agricultural produces more especially
in rural areas where a kilo of maize ranges between 300-500/=, beans ranges from 700-1000/=, a bunch of banana ranges from 3000 -20000 being the biggest size in Manafwa, Bududa, Sironko, among other districts compared to the prices tagged to these things in towns. The absence of uniformity in prices of agricultural products across the country is the key reason why farmers are exploited and have remained poor. They are working hard to develop the commercial traders who make triple profits from rural farmers.
There is also a common disease eating up farmers and that is the people who sale farm products such as seeds, pesticides and other farm inputs. Duplication is the order of their profit making, regardless of who suffers. These people who duplicate things have made farmers’ lives so miserable in a way that in as much as the government tries to avail farmers with seeds, cows, birds, goats to mention, they are supposed to be treated and supported artificially but, when the sources where farmers get these things from, give them fake things that most of the time do not see the purpose to which they are taken for, how then would one expect a farmer to develop?
The government is much aware of these duplications but, at one point we can say they are supported by Uganda national bureau of standards because the question is how such people operate when we have the agency that is obligated to maintain the good services.
The government should therefore think twice and bring such things on board. Farmers should properly manage the little they get through sensitizations on savings. There must be a uniform price on which things should be bought at and sold countrywide and also, an operation should be carried out in order to reduce duplication of things.
This will help in improving farmer’s economic status through improved yields, favorable prices and also farmers will learn how to spend the little they have.
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