KAMPALA – Rural women farmers have asked government to create more awareness about land registration processes and land rights Issues in order to save many from land grabbers.
The farmers, who met at Hotel Africana in Kampala on February 8 during the Women in Agriculture conference, told State Minister for Lands Persis Namuganza that majority of the rural women are still ignorant about land rights and Registration.
They say this has paved way for their rights on land to be violated by their spouses and land grabbers.
“Government should sensitize the rural women about land rights and the process of land registration especially the customary land. Majority of the women are finding it very difficult to register lands due to ignorance because all the documents are in English which complicates the matter. Government needs to translate all land policies and regulations to local languages that can be easily understood by the rural people,” said Margret Masudio, a farmer from Adjuman District in west Nile.
During the same event, farmers also asked government to roll out country-wide customary land registration, saying this will boost land security to the local people especially those on customary or communal lands.
The farmers also noted that due to land insecurity in some parts of the country, some women do not to venture into commercial farming because their land is are not secure from grabbers.
Country-wide customary land registration
Giving a keynote address, Minister Namuganza assured them that government will embark on country-wide customary land registration which the government, through Ministry of Lands, has been piloting in some parts.
“Government is in the process of registering all customary lands because land registration vital in land ownership ,government has piloted the exercise in some parts and those whose lands were registered are now venturing into commercial farming especially in Northern parts of the country,” the minister Said.
The Women in Agriculture Conference was organized by Eastern and Southern Africa small holder farmers’ forum (ESAFF) Uganda chapter with the support from Trust Africa. The main objective of the event was to discuss workable policies solutions to constraints faced by women in rural areas who depend on agriculture for their livelihood
ESAFF Uganda chapter chairperson Hakim Baliraine said Uganda will not achieve the middle Income status by 2020 as projected by government if women are not accessing to resources like land.
He revealed that women productivity in the agriculture sector is still lagging behind yet it’s the only sector which can transform the majority rural Women.
“Government needs to come up with reforms in the land management system to ensure that all gender have equally rights on ownership of land especially customary lands this will create more hopes to Women to venture into commercial farming” He said.
Reports on poverty alleviation from the World Bank and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations indicate that rural women face greater constraints than men in accessing land, technology, markets, infrastructure and services.
Reports from FAO shows that when rural women have the same access as men to productive resources, services and economic opportunities there is a significant increase in agricultural output and immediate and long term social and economic gains, all contributing to the reduction in the number of poor and hungry people.
However, a World Bank report faults Uganda Women when it comes to Agriculture productivity. It shows that plots managed by women farmers produce 13% less per acre than men’s, or those managed jointly while only 24 % of women, compared to 33 % of men, use improved seeds. Only 18.6% have access to extension advisory services compared to 81.4 % of men.
It is on this background that gender experts who attended the meeting are calling for gender equality and women’s empowerment which is a powerful tool in achieving food security and fighting poverty at house hold level.
“Government of Uganda needs to support the majority women in rural areas to ensure that they own resources that are highly needed in their daily Income generating activities. The current cultural dynamics are not gender balance because the norms tends to protect the male gender at the ost of their counterpart the female when it comes to own resources such as Land” said Dr Bethule Nyamambi of Trust Africa.
Inadequate access to modern farming tools
During the meeting that was attended by policy makers, academia and people from non-state actors, farmers also raised the issue of inadequate access to modern farming tools, access to quality market for their produces.
Responding to their queries, Minister Namuganza promised them that her ministry will work with the Ministry of Agriculture to come up with special agriculture programmes targeting Women especially those in the rural areas.
“Very soon government will start procuring agriculture machines such as combine harvester’s but farmers need to be organized in groups if government is to support them effectively due to the limited resources available” She said.
On accessing to markets, the farmers were advised to ensure that their produces meets the set up quality standards if they are to penetrate the regional markets especially in the East African Community.
Mary Teddy Asio, the Principle Agriculture officer at the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, said most Agricultural produces from Uganda are being rejected in the regional markets because of poor post-harvest handling.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO