Urgent Evoke

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I report inadequate food access and availability in Uganda.

Uganda's economy widely depends on the agricultural sector. The biggest population of Ugandans benefits from Agriculture - both directly and indirectly.
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 diseases.
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.

Threats to Food Security in Uganda:
Poor farming methods. Farmers are still practicing traditional farming methods which hamper their yields. Practices like cultivating up and down the slopes which lead to massive soil erosion, over cultivation not giving soil enough time to regain fertility among others. They grow local crops - which cannot survive under bad weather conditions and more prone to pests and diseases.

The LAND TENURE SYSTEM. Because the land is owned by individuals in small plots, every farmer aims at producing enough to feed their growing families. Farmers are producing on small scale because they are constrained by their plots. In many cases the plots are quarter an acre. The men also tend to have more control over the land as compared to the women - Gender and Land Issues. For example the man makes the final decision over what to use the land for. This limits on the productivity of the women interms of agriculture. Also the man has more control over the yields - in many cases they choose to sell/ trade part of the produce for "local beer".


Pests and diseases. Poor selection of crops plus lack of preventative measure has also contributed greatly to the ever reducing yields in terms of quality and quantity. Many local farmers still grow local breeds which are less resistant to pests and diseases.


Lack of agriculture support and Market Support. The governement/ private sector has not worked out a strategic market and agriculture support plan for the farmers. Farmers are not knowledgeable about the available markets and market prices - hence they are exploited by the middle men. The work very hard season after season, year in year out to feed the nation but their efforts are not rewarded appropriately. The agriculture support programs by the government have not been effective - instead they have been failed by the high ranking official due to corruption, embezzlement and misuse of the funds (see one of the such cases here: Kanungu NAADS Officials Arrested).


The communities remain unaware of the food insecurity in the country. The ministry of Agriculture has not made enough efforts to sensitize the farmers about the inadeqaucy of food access and availability in the country. This has made the farmers more relactant in terms of production. The farmers are also unaware about the opportunities provided by large scale production.


Increasing population - triggering rural urban migration! The population of Uganda is growing at a very high rate. As the population grows, the competition for food and land increases. As a result the demand for agricultural products increases - the supply remains constant or increases by a very small margin making food very expensive. The energetic youth are swarming cities like (Kampala the capital of Uganda) and other towns leaving food production to the elderly. The elderly are less energetic, less flexible and less innovative.



Many people still believe that the agricultural sector is for the illiterates. This has made the agricultural sector less sounding over the years. The learned are looking for "white collar jobs" in big companies.


Innovative solutions

Many non-profits, the government and individuals are making efforts to ensure a future with guaranteed food security. Here I must mention the work done by the following:


Food and Agriculture Organisation Uganda - FAO's Integrated Support to Sustainable Development and Food Security Programme (IP). The aim of the IP is to promote synergy through interdisciplinary collaboration and information-sharing across and in support of ongoing rural development programmes.


World Food Programme. WFP carries out a range of development activities that seek to address the underlying causes of food insecurity through two priority sectors: agriculture and market support, and food and nutrition security. Agriculture and market support to small-scale farmers and traders aims to leverage WFP’s local purchasing and is provided through the construction and rehabilitation of market infrastructure such as warehouses and community market access roads; training in post harvest handling; and the purchase of the farmers’ produce – mainly cereals and pulses.


National Agriculture Research Organisation.


Agricultural Research and Extension Network (ARENET). Agriculture Research Extension Network (ARENET) is dedicated to helping anyone involved in improving rural farming to readily access practical, technical and relevant agricultural information from various national and international sources.


St. Jude Family Project. St. Jude Family Project is a Community Based Organization (CBO) in Masaka, Uganda that began as a small organic farm on 3 acres owned by John and Josephine Kizza since the 1980s. Its purpose is to improve household income, crop yields, household food security and diet. St. Jude teaches the most vulnerable groups in the society ways of improving family subsistence farming and diet. The training techniques use locally available materials and the methods used are environmentally. "Personnaly I have been to this farm twice and I have always admired their work. This family project has been an inspiration to many farmers - today many farmers in smalls groups do exchange visits to this farm." We need more of such WORKING examples.


Women of Uganda Network through Kubere Information Centre - (one of its projects).The KIC was established under the project “Enhancing Access to Agricultural Information using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)" whose primary target is rural women farmers in Apac District, with partner women groups in Gulu, Lira and Oyam Districts. This project is one of the activities under the Information Sharing and Networking Program area of Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET). The project is conducted with generous financial support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and from Hivos.

To achieve a self sustaining food secure future, the governments together with the private sector should work closely with the communities to provide a strategic agriculture and market plan. Listen to the farmers challenges and provide working solutions. Up to now the communities are not aware of the food insecurities they are facing. This is because there is NO DIRECT communication channel between the government and the food growers in the country.

Our country is blessed by nature in that the soils are fertile and the weather is condusive for agriculture. All we need is to sensitize the farmers, highlight the pontentials agriculture is promising and provide better farming skills.

Views: 248

Comment by Bill Guinee on March 14, 2010 at 7:47am
Great Blog post. Thank you for sharing all of this and for all the work you put into it.
Comment by sofia nunes on March 14, 2010 at 8:22am
Thanks for sharing the information in such a clear way. It's a really good post!
Comment by Ayala Sherbow on March 14, 2010 at 8:31pm
excellent post. wish i could give it more than 1 pt.
Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on March 14, 2010 at 9:17pm
Comment by Michele Baron on March 14, 2010 at 10:43pm
Thank you for this great, informative post..
Comment by Simon Brookes on March 16, 2010 at 1:34pm
This is a wonderful example of local insight Agent Javie. I am most impressed by the range of examples of solutions to the problems faced by Ugandan farmers. If you could start a project, relating to this issue of food security in Uganda what would it be?

Do you know about the EVOKATION? Read about it here if you don't:

http://blog.urgentevoke.net/2010/01/24/the-evokation-how-to-earn-ev...

This would make a very suitable project area for EVOKATION consideration. Can you build a team of EVOKE agents to work on a proposal together?

I'm awarding you +50 for sharing this with the network.

Thanks

Simon (EVOKE Mentor)
Comment by Kevin DiVico on March 16, 2010 at 6:30pm
Hello Ssozi - thank you for bringing this to the attention of the network. you mention "This is because there is NO DIRECT communication channel between the government and the food growers in the country." That sparked an idea...

An Idea to share with you, Ugandas teledenisty must be more then the 13 that was reported back in 2007 (see IST report Africa http://www.ist-africa.org/home/default.asp?page=doc-by-id&docid...)

I would imagine that there are more mobile phones then computers in Uganda.

So can we NextStep this, the members of the Evoke network create an application that can run on the cell phones that allows for the farmers to directly (in real time) input there food security data which then would get delivered to the government ministry of agriculture in easy to see graphics indicating what current yields are, future yields projected , metrics on the soil conditions, etc.

This could be a open source code project - to benefit the people of Uganda...we can use creative commons license as well. Attribution would go to the Evoke organisation and members directly on the project. If we involve the open source code community, this could be done...

lots more info and metrics need to be gathered but its worth a shot... .. hope this helps...
Comment by Starling on March 19, 2010 at 5:28pm
Hello Ssozi Javie - this is really good work. I wonder if there is any way I can assist with your project? I would like to be able to.
Comment by Lynn Caldwell on March 22, 2010 at 2:23pm
Hi there...I'm in the UK, I'm not sure of how I can help in a practical way, but you asked for my help, so if you need anything, just give me a shout and I'll see what i can do for you :o) Oh, I remember, I posted a blog for my learn about food treadle water pump to enhance irrigation. They are popular in India, (google 'Farmers Friend') and another agent informed me that a social innovator is selling the same thing in Kenya, called 'KickStart' - both of these foot pedal machines seem to be working and helping - are you aware of them in Uganda?
Comment by Lynn Caldwell on March 22, 2010 at 2:33pm
oooo,, just a quick thought - Can you get grants from Agricultural Minister? I'm saying this because you could definately use the grant to buy up a load of these at wh***sale prices as act as a distributor - or you could do it on commision (although other agents shout about corruption, so commision might not be a solution in all cases, if you were to suggest this to people in your local community). alternatively, you could always get some leaflets from the distributor, with his prices, clearly seen - then gather orders for him, and then ask for some free ones and some commision on the ones you have sold?? Not explaining very well as my son keeps jogging my arm! LOL - if you are interested, PM me and I'll explain further...:o)

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