Why Uganda Cannot Dismiss Hand Hoes in Agriculture

As we head for Women’s Day tomorrow, I was thinking hard about the reality of our Ugandan women activists and i am not taking it it. I am rather still defiant.

My senior colleague Wambi Michael writes a story where the Uganda Women’s Network Executive Director, Rita Aciro Lakor said it is an embarrassment that hand hoe is still encouraged as a preferred tool in agriculture at a time when other countries are mechanizing agriculture.

The female activists actually propose that the use of hand hoes should be discouraged by government due to related implications such as low production, pains such as spinal pains among many others.

However, let me for now object to their views. First forward, several studies done on Agriculture in Uganda indicate that 99.4% smallholder farmers in Uganda use traditional, rudimentary and obsolete technologies and methodologies for pre and post-harvest operations.

Here, we’re talking about the 70% labor force in the country, people who are only doing agriculture to help sustain the country. If you went to markets in Uganda and see the various fresh products in Uganda being brought from gardens accross the various parts of the country, one must first of all thank the great men and women who toil to plant seeds in the soil to feed the entire populace. Hilda guide me where I go wrong this is your area.

Maybe for now, Ugandans are not yet ready for tractors. During the recent presidential elections (John Blanshe M) please remind me isnt it the time Mzee Museveni Kaguta promised to distribute over 18million hand hoes to distribute them to locals to enhance agriculture.

Whereas the activists might be having a point in that we need to now embrace mechanized agriculture for higher outputs, I think it is rather treacherous to advise that hand hoes should be banished. I have grown in a village where you must get a hoe and dig in order to secure food both for sell and and for home consumption.

We must first appreciate that given the population rise in Uganda, there has been pressure created on our land and most of the parts of the country especially in Western Uganda have been fragmented. Considering that mechanised agriculture requires land with good terrain, it might not be good advice to people to abandon hoes.

Especially following the recent reports on hunger crisis in the country, many people today either have been affected by the climate changes which has affected food production but this has also been due to unguided settlements and encroachments where people have for-instance encroached water catchment areas, forests depleted every natural resource at the expense of the climate.

A group of Abahingi women (subsistence farmers) from the village of Mirindi, Nangara clearing the land to plant beans.

We must all appreciate the fact that we need serious agriculture and a mechanized one for that matter but we cannot abandon the rudimentary tools when we do not have capacity as a country to establish agricultural farms to be able to produce for the ever growing population as a country. We need a strategy and I think we should be making noise to interest government on the need to do modern agriculture since like it is argued that our rudimentary modes of agriculture are not productive.

With this unpredictable climate change, government needs to strategically adopt some strategies of ensuring there is massive food production of food in the country. At the end of the day someone will not praise you for bringing piece when their children have slept on an empty stomach.

My friend and senior comrade Edgar Muvunyi Tabaro recently pondered on why China at this day age was donating the yellow rice to Uganda yet in a few years ago it used Uganda Used to be a food basket.

Media reports indicate that traders travel from as far as Rwanda to come to Mbarara and clear posho stocks in shops, Business men have gone an extra mile of paying off farmers in their gardens before even they plant. Mr. Justus Karuhanga let us not only focus on milk and meat production and we have people run out of food but also invest in serious crop agriculture.

The food situation in the country is not the best as many people are reportedly dying of hunger. If we must really have to help our population, we must ensure agriculture is embraced but not only through our traditional agriculture modes but also embracing modern mechanised agriculture which will take time. But there must be will by government.

I wish the passion that the government is running to clamp down kiosks and structures in parkyard market would be the same passion government is using in identifying areas which can accomodate irrigation and so national farms can be established.

One wonders that although Uganda is endowed with fertile soils and favourable climate, the major factors that influence agriculture, the country continues to produce at a law scale.

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