Small-scale farmers face hurdles

KAMPALA, UGANDA - Reducing poverty through improved agricultural methods in the rural areas will not happen if the government does not come up with good supportive policies for farmers.

Alhaji M. Jallow, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative in Uganda recently cautioned small-scale farmers saying depending on subsistence farming as a main source of livelihood is not the way to move forward.

He said: “Farmers need access to simple technologies, especially simple irrigation technologies and improved agriculture inputs like improved seeds. The majority of the farmers live below the poverty line. Government should come in and solve challenges faced by farmers for the sector to develop.”

Speaking during the launch of the International Year of Family Farming recently in Kampala, Jallow asked for government intervention so that Uganda does not experience food insecurity in the near future.

He said although Uganda has got fertile soil and good climatic conditions, agricultural production may decline because farmers cannot improve productivity without the guidance of the state.

Jallow said in order for small- scale farming to succeed, FAO with support from the international community, will continue supporting the sector. He cited mitigating climate change through supporting agro-forestry and other interventions.

“If small scale farming is supported it will have a direct impact in achieving the Millennium Development Goals on eradication of extreme poverty and hunger,” he said.

Recently the Belgium government donated Ush3m Euros to support cattle farmers in six districts in the Cattle Corridor regions in central Uganda. The fund is expected to benefit the districts of Luweero, Nakasongola, Sembabule, and Nakaseke, Mubende and Kiboga

Launching the year agriculture minister, Tress Buchanayandi, the Minister for Agriculture said the government has developed policies that promote family farming but the difficulty arose in implementation.

“Governments programmes like National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme NAADs support small-scale farming but the challenge implementation. The Ministry is making adjustments to the NAADS programme,” he said.

He said the government is developing technologies which will help in fighting the negative effects of climate change through the introduction of biotechnology.

He said if the parliament completes the debate on the Biotechnology Bill and passes it into law, the country will be in position to farm genetically engineered crops that are more resistant to the negative effects of climate change.

Mrs. Gertrude Kanayangi the East African Regional the representative of the civil society mechanism coordinating committee for food security at FAO headquarters said the government should come up with technologies that are friendly to family farmers instead of advocating for the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs in the country.

“We need technology that can support organic farming. But what the government is trying to advocate for, will not help small-scale farmers because of its financial consequences to the local people. What governments should do is to support farmers with agriculture credits, access to market and water for irrigation, but not biotechnology support,” she said.