A crash course in changing the world.
Title: Improving food access and livelihoods for rural farmers and beyond!
Presented by: Ssozi Javie
To help rural farmers improve on their livelihoods through improved farm yields, for sustainable development.
Uganda's economy widely depends on the agricultural sector. The biggest population of Ugandans benefits from Agriculture - both directly
Many regions in Uganda are practicing subsistence agriculture - mainly because
the land is owned by private individuals in small plots; so, the people choose
what to do on their plots of land.
Because families practice subsistence agriculture on small plots of land, their
target is to produce enough to feed their families until the next
harvest. In many cases they fall short of their target. Often yields are not
enough to feed the family until the next harvest. This has greatly been
attributed to the poor farming methods (many farmers have chosen to remain
local - NO diversity in their farming methods), prolonged droughts, pests and
Under circ**stances, the farmers are faced with situations where they have to
sell part of their produce to cater for emerging needs - access health
facilities, pay for school fees, rent, provide for their families, name it...
In many cases they sell their produce at very low prices because the market is
not readily available plus the middlemen exploit them because they are
desperate to sell.
The rural farmers of Uganda have faced various challenges and these include the following factors among others:
Poor methods of farming: While a small percentage of
farmers remains particularly conservative and not willing to advance or
modernize their farming methods, many rural farmers have not been sensitized
about improved methods of farming. As a
result, such practices like cultivating up and down the slopes leading to
massive soil erosion, over cultivation - not giving soil enough time to regain
fertility among others, growing the poor local breeds/ local crops - which
cannot survive under poor weather conditions and more prone to pests and
On the same note, modern farming equipments also remain very expensive for one subsistence farmer to afford.
Lack of access to the common market/ market support: many rural farmers remain unemployed and
they greatly rely selling on part of their agricultural produce to provide the
basic needs to their families. This implies that they need a reliable and
accessible market to be able to sell their products to earn a decent living.
The land tenure system: Because the land in Uganda
is owned by private individuals, some people have no land at all (the tenants),
some have very small plots and while others have very big plots of lands (land
lords). Those who have small plots of land have big families. Usually these
small plots do not provide enough space for them to practice large scale
farming. As the families and communities expand, the rate of production remains
the same and sometimes the yields become smaller due to natural factors. In
essence, the produce is much less than the subsistence and market requirements.
Low productivity: As stated earlier, the small plots of land and mentality of subsistence farming
coupled with poor methods of farming can only permit low productivity. In
addition many farmers don’t have access to crops and/ seeds at the beginning of
the season. This is mainly because most of the seeds are either consumed or
spoilt by the pests and often nothing is spared to be planted for the following
season. This is a problem because the farmers cannot reach their full potential
and as a result many rural farmers remain poor as they barely produce enough to
feed their families.
Gender imbalance: of course we still have issues of domestic violence and gender inequality. The
men in most cases dictate what the women grow on the family plots. As if that’s
not enough, they want to be in charge selling the surplus of the total produce.
This means that they control the cash flow in the families and in many cases they
first full fill their needs – usually alcohol! This leaves the women the
position of the woman in the family undefined! The abuse and/ violation of the
rights of the women in various ways, such as work without pay or underpayment
in comparison to their input.
With the above mentioned problems, my proposal idea is:
First of all, as an Urgent Evoke Agent, I intend to sensitize and enlighten the rural farmers about changing their mind set. This can be done by volunteers who go
out in the field to teach farmers on the “grass roots”, peer groups, training
of trainers, exchange visits to demonstration farms, also through agricultural organizations.
The enlightenment does not only affect the women, but also the men. In so
doing, they both contribute to the desired changes, that is, improved farm
yields, improved rural livelihoods, hence ensuring food security in rural
communities and beyond).
Get farmers to work together in groups such as the “tukorehamwe womens group” in Masaka
district of Uganda. This will help reinvent the spirit of cooperative farming,
helping individual farmers enjoy advantages like economies of scale and many
This way, the problems like low productivity, gender inequality and limited land for agriculture will be solved. Farmers in small or
big groups would be able to produce agricultural products and create volumes
from their numbers. Of course this will also involve training of effective
group formation and management which wouldn’t be hard with the minds set.
In addition, the problem of marketing would be easier solved. Because now the farmers have teamed up, they have more produce to carry
to the market in bulk and now they can target bigger markets. The transport
cost is shared among the group members or better yet covered using the group
savings making the average charge per member affordable.
In groups (small or big) farmers would also be able to acquire soft loans (for low income earners) from the available banks on group
security. These loans usually come with low or no interest. The various
commercial banks can be approached by these farmer groups. Such banks include Centenary
Rural Development Bank, DFCU, Stanbic bank and Housing Finance bank. This way,
the loan’s liability is split and shared between the various parties involved.
Rural farmers in Masaka District of Uganda.
One demonstration farm to be set up in Masaka
district as a centre for training and perfection as the idea spreads to other
district inside and beyond Uganda.
Conduct one day seminar in Masaka for already
established farmer groups and farmers in general.
The Masaka demonstration farm will be used as
training centre to train more farmers in improved farming methods and sharing
1. I hope that by completing the demonstration training centre we will have trainers to train other farmers.
2. There will be a monitoring and evaluation exercise every three months
3. Farmers will be encouraged to start by growing enough food for their families with a little surplus for sell.
4. Farmers will be encouraged to work in groups to reinvent the spirit of cooperative farming with its unsung advantages.
5. We shall connect/ affiliate these farmer groups with other non-profit organizations working in the field of agriculture both local
and international – these include: Food and Agriculture Organisation, National
Agriculture Research Organsiation, Dimitra, World Food Programme, National Agriculture Research Organisation - Kawanda and other already established
demonstration farms in the country.