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How To Seize Opportunities For Smarter Farming

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Morris Ogenga-Latigo

In 2021 erratic weather, drought and hailstorms that afflicted various parts of Uganda triggered serious concerns about climate change, food security, and household incomes.

There were also concerns about threats the country faced from a population boom, land fragmentation, rapid rural-urban migration, and our ineffectual efforts toward agricultural transformation.

Amidst the threats, the country addressed prospects for Uganda’s agriculture in 2022 through fear and lamentations, about things that should have been done to exploit the nation’s agricultural potential.

Then in 2022, bad weather again struck not only in Uganda, but also in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, etc, moreover at worse levels.

In Uganda, the first season that runs from February to May, rains again failed in the drought-prone eastern and northern regions, with Karamoja needing food interventions by the middle of the year.

Whereas people in these areas thought that the drought was a curse upon them, in August, I travelled through Bunyoro and Mubende districts and got the shock of my life.

Leaving Gulu for Kabamba, in Mubende late afternoon, I expected to enjoy roast maize in Bweyale, only to leave the last roast maize in Kamdini, Oyam.

The next day, driving through Kagadi, Kibaale in Bunyoro, and Mubende, the scale of the drought that hit these areas was shocking and yet these are vital food baskets.

I also later witnessed unprecedented hailstorm damage to bananas in Kashaari, and Mbarara.

I also listened to farmers in western and central Uganda lament about the poor rains.

Besides the direct effects of poor weather, the erratic conditions, as expected, also triggered abnormal outbreaks of crop pests and diseases all over the country.

White mealybugs are wiping out pawpaws in the north; oranges are suffering terribly in Teso; and crops, animals, and farmers now face unusual pestilence in other parts of the country.

The first rainy season is also still erratic too.

Adopt simplicity

Firstly, with our moderate climate, usually stable rainfall, fertile lands, and abundant freshwater bodies, Uganda is like no other country in East Africa in terms of crop and livestock production potential.

Even with the increasingly frequent droughts, our priority should not lie in promoting large-scale irrigation, but in other practices.

The writer is a judge in Vision Group’s best farmers competition and a farmer.

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