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KEY INTEVENTIONS NEEDED TO DRIVE AGRICULTURE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT IN UGANDA.

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KEY INTEVENTIONS NEEDED TO DRIVE AGRICULTURE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT IN UGANDA.

Post by sol_drethedon on Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:15 am

KEY INTERVENTIONS NEEDED TO DRIVE AGRICULTURE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT IN UGANDA.

Agriculture is the most important sector in Uganda's economy because it employs over 80% of the population. The sector is also the basis for much of the industrial activity in the country since most industries are aggro-based. Even though it's share in total GDP has been declining, agriculture remains important because it provides the basis for growth in other sectors such as manufacturing and services.

The livelihoods of Ugandan smallholder farmers are often constrained by poor access to markets and limited entrepreneurial skills for adding value to produce. Rapid urbanization is however opening up domestic and regional markets and offering new market opportunities for smallholder farmers to supply higher value produce.

The challenge is that farmer entrepreneurship is not commonly practiced in Uganda. But farming should be treated as a business implying that farmers need to adopt a business-like approach to farming and not just consider it as a source of food sustenance. There is need to change the mind set of farmers from subsistence to more commercial farming.

The contribution of agriculture to national economic growth, poverty reduction and improving the livelihoods of Uganda's smaller-holder farmers cannot be emphasized. Agriculture provides a base for the betterment of the wellbeing of the people. It creates a foundation for expansion of value adding processing industries for local and regional markets, as well as marketing operations for domestic exports. However, the level of use of improved farming technology is still very low. 93% of Ugandan farmers depend on the hand hoe foe cultivation. While the abolishing of import duty on hand hoes in the last national budget is commendable, there are concerns that this promotes subsistence farming. This is contrary to the government's Agricultural Development and Sector Investment Plan(DSIP) 2010/11-2014/15 which targets to transform agriculture from subsistence to profitable commercial farming.

According to a study on farmer entrepreneurship policies in Uganda(2012), there are a number of opportunities to sustainably increase agriculture sector growth. The study also highlights a number of challenges that include declining production and productivity; limited access to sustainable markets; a not always favorable enabling policy and legal environment to facilitate increased private sector role in agriculture development and institutional related issues. Relatedly, reliance on smallholder largely subsistence farmers is a very serious supply constraint to trade.

The study recommends solutions both at local and international levels to support farmers which include:

-Ensuring that integration of farmer entrepreneurship in policies always emphasizes social, cultural and environmental responsibilities of farmer entrepreneurs

- Promoting research on Farmer entrepreneur development and ensuring that there is feedback output into farmer entrepreneurial enhancement.

- Making small scale farming more profitable by developing business support services and market institutions e.g micro-finance, market information, credit, business skills training and packaging.

- Allocating earmarked funds for lending to smallholder farmers at affordable interest rates.

- Establishing an Agricultural Bank that will explicitly focus on farmers' credit needs, hedge against risks like crop failures and volatilities in

the prices of aggro-products

- And promoting the growing of fruits to serve increasing world demand.

The report strongly urges donors and development partners to improve the quality of aid as the Paris Declaration and provide multi-year, predictable and guaranteed aid flows, without attaching conditionalities. Besides, they should provide direct support to women farmer groups and smallholder entrepreneurs.
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sol_drethedon

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