Monday, January 26, 2009

Farming in Uganda, most are unable to afford what we can

An article in All Africa today, provides more proof on why improving farming in the underdeveloped world is perhaps the most important aid we can do. A survey shows very high percentages of farmers in Uganda do not use the same tools to help their crops as in the developed world. And are in fact, far behind the world's average.

Improved seeds, fertilizer and other "inputs" could greatly improve yields for farmers. Many of whom are too poor to even afford these things and can only grow enough crops to feed their families, hopefully for the whole year.

A stat relieved in the survey said that a Ugandan farmer needs four acres to match the same output as one acre in the developed world. This is pretty much what Jeffrey Sachs was talking about in his most recent commentary. In it, he talked about how the improved inputs have helped to feed Asia, but still needs to be done elsewhere.

On to the survey now, Joshua Kato of Uganda's New Vision provides the findings.

USING improved agriculture inputs is one of the best ways of modernising agriculture. However, more than 95% of Ugandan farmers do not use improved agriculture inputs, according to a survey, Gender Disaggregated Data for Agriculture.

The survey found out that 75.5% of farmers were not using improved seeds. It was also found out that 85% were not using hybrid seeds, while 93.1% were not using herbicides.

The survey further revealed that 91.9% were not using fungicides, while 83.4% were not using pesticides. It further discovered that 94.5% were not using improved animal feeds, while 75.2% were not using veterinary drugs.

The figures look similar with almost all classes of farmers, including the elderly, the married and single. Among adult farmers who use inputs, it was established that the main source of inputs are shops and local vendors, at 50% for male farmers and 48% for female farmers.

Other sources include agriculture officers at 11% and 13% for males and females respectively, veterinary officers at 9.4% and 9.6% for males and females respectively, markets at 16.6% and 15% for male and female farmers respectively.

Agriculture researchers/ the National Agricultural Research Organisation only provide 3.7% and 3.8% inputs for male and female farmers respectively. Other sources are cooperative societies at an average 2%.

According to the survey, there are several reasons why farmers do not use farm inputs. The majority of them said they lacked knowledge about the input, while others said the inputs were too expensive or not available.

About 34% said they lacked knowledge about improved seeds while 29.2% said the seeds were too expensive. A similar number said the seeds were not available.

About 43% said they lacked knowledge about hybrid seeds, while 30.2% said the seeds were too expensive, yet 28.2% said the seeds were not available. The percentages are almost similar with artificial insemination, fungicides, pesticides, animal feeds and veterinary drugs.

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