Practicing what we preach in Agriculture: Too Cool to Farm

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For the last ten days, I was in my village for a –Grand Plan. To clear and plant about 4 hectares of Land which myself and my brother have been cultivating for the 3rd consecutive year for the production of Beans and Maize. As a young person passionate about agriculture and rural development, farming and cultivation of crops popularly grown within this region has of recent formed not only a bigger but significant source of income and food for our family as we ventured into medium scale farming. It was through farming by our parents that tuition for our education were met, food to feed us as children and money to take care of our health issues were raised- indeed, it was a major livelihood source for our family!

Land and the major crops grown in my village

Land in Oyam District- and generally Northern Uganda, is one of the most fertile lands in the country and the district is among the top performing ones in the production of food security crops such as Maize, Beans, Cassava and cowpeas among others. In a four hectare plot of Land and with assistance from Local labor who are normally organized members of community of about 30-50 members- locally referred to as “Akiba- group” -these groups are able to clear such hectares of land within a short period of time basically using rudimentary tools such as hand hoes and Pangas at a nominal fee. This fee is usually paid instantly or at a later date- normally months before the groups sits down in December to share the proceeds of their hard labor.

Activities of ploughing!

Activities of ploughing!

Ploughing using ox-plough

So by the time I went to the farm, a large chunk had been cleared with some money that I had sent previously to my mum on Mobile Money. The next step was to employ the use of oxen and ox plough to raise the soils in preparation for planting. This is yet an hectic process and require fairly good amount of money. We did manage to clear the land and I into action with my mum, brother and some helpers, were able to work and saw this process successfully.

Tiresome & hectic

Our time in the garden was really tedious. The first day we took off early in the morning without breakfast at 7:00am and we returned at 3:00pm. That was a hard bargain for us all. The subsequent days, we revised it and before we could get to the garden we would first make break tea.

Writter uses hand hoe

Writer uses hand hoe

Seeds and planting process

My mum had advised me against buying seeds from seed stores in towns as experiences in the village has shown that these seeds rarely grow. We opted to buy a full sack of two different varieties of beans from locally available markets- expensive as this is; we ventured into the next step of planting.

Planting of beans in this village are done in lines, however some people plant as they ox-plough concurrently. The lines are dug by hand hoes and very squeezed to each other. This is one of the most difficult tasks and it was on the 3rd Day that my hands begun to get bruises. We had done a good job! This is the season in most rural areas where farmers are busiest than ever. It’s also a period of scarcity of foods as the crops that are planted at this time especially the beans and maize are the ones that eventually get to feed them in the next few months a head-normally 3 months.

The agricultural sector has for several years formed the backbone of Uganda’s economy contributing approximately 37% of Gross Domestic product (GDP). The sector remains crucial to the Ugandan economy for household and national food security, income generation, employment creation and foreign exchange earnings among others. Close to 18.8 million or 77% of the Ugandan population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods (NARO, 2011). This means that for Uganda to achieve the millennium development goal of eliminating hunger, improving the performance of this sector requires concerted efforts from all partners

Next Article to feature next week will discuss and pinpoint serious challenges and lessons learnt in the process.

Moses Owiny

Farmer, Agric, Rural Dev’t & ICT4D enthusiast