RANCHI – For the past eleven days or so, I have been pondering about on how to employ myself, energy, skills and the little savings I have made over the years into one thing or another that can bring me great returns. Just like Ray Charles Robinson sung about ‘Georgia On My Mind,’ for me it has been Agriculture On My Mind.
The same issue was rejuvenated three days ago when I had a skype chat with my Old Boy from primary school, Samuel Muyomba. During the chat, he informed me he bought 10 acres of land of which he has utilised 5 acres for agricultural production which has paid him off quite immensely. The rest of it, he used it for animal husbandry.
I shared the same thoughts with my Ugandan colleague who works in Hazaribag, in the Indian state of Jharkhand, still we rotated on the same thinking platform although he promised to help on something which is still in mind and between us.
Interestingly, I shared the same thoughts with a Kenyan colleague, Stephanie Zighe. We spoke at length and exchanged ideas but still we were snapping to same agricultural lyrics. She gave me a series of ideas that I got rooted into which I am ready to apply.
Reading Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya’s interview with Dorothy Nakaweesi of the Daily Monitor on February 21, 2013, his answers reawakened my mind again and that is the reason why I wrote this article for my blog. It left me with one opinion which is, after my contract has expired in India, am to travel back to Uganda or call it the Pearl of Africa and start circumnavigating on agriculture.
Prof. Bukenya started by planting Nerica Upland rice in 2003 at one of his farms in Lwantama-Kakiri, Wakiso District for five years before he spread the idea to the rest of the country during his nation-wide campaigns. Upland rice received positive reception because it ensures food security and is a source of income to those who grow it. He says he got the idea while on trip to Cameroon.
Additionally, he says that he is into tropical apples, hibiscus, macadamia, dairy cattle farming, fish and poultry among others.. He elaborated more and said that according to research, each tropical apple tree, on average, bears 400 fruits and that Uganda has two seasons. This can double to 800 fruits in a year from one tree. He said that if an apple was sold at Ug.shs 200, in two seasons a farmer would be earning Ug.shs 160,000 from one tree in a year. How cool is that? He also said that a kilo of macadamia costs about USD 30 equivalent to Ug.shs 80,000. So would a farmer go wrong in agriculture? I guess not.
He cautioned the government he once served as a minister and later as the Vice President, that it should concentrate more and give priority to agriculture because it supports the economy. With the discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben, everybody is excited about it. He advised that the people of Uganda should not forget about agriculture. He gave an example of Nigeria as the leading importer of food in Africa because it has over relied on oil and forgotten about agriculture.
I wondered why the learned professor had not eschewed politics for developmental work maybe the timing had not yet arrived!!!
Prof. Bukenya is a Ugandan physician and politician who was once a Vice President of Uganda from 23 May 2003 until 23 May 2011. He also represents Busiro North constituency in the Ugandan 9th Parliament. He has been an MP since 1996.
Uganda is a fertile and landlocked country with a total population of about 35 million people. Majority of these are thought to be around 82% and live in rural areas who mainly rely on substance agriculture and of which, the rural setting contribute more food to the urban dwellers. Agriculture in Uganda has been and still it is the back bone of Uganda. Uganda has mainly been exporting to Southern Sudan and Kenya in the recent past.
Almost half of the rural population live in abject poverty without reliable supply of food despite the good fertile soils and favourable weather. This is because they produce less for consumption as more is sold off to earn a living. Many barriers to this can be traced to be among other, poor farming techniques, land fragmentation and high population pressure a small piece of land.
Many of those who have relatively bigger chunks of land use rudimentary methods leaving them with shorter hands to acquire the mechanisation means. Irrigation is also a problem in that they are a few farmers who apply that agricultural discipline or else they are in places where they are hardly any water source. Above all, most of them cannot access loans from the banks and some who can, the interest rate is high if not very. This means that agriculture still stands out although a lot is needed to be done in Uganda.