Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries plans to establish 10 regional Agricultural Mechanization centers across the country.
The regional centers will act as centers of excellence to equip Ugandan farmers with modern agricultural mechanization skills and act as centers where farmers can have access to agricultural mechanization equipment such as tractors and other machines.
The Chief Executive Officer Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) Mr. Katungisa Kenneth observed that for the sector to develop farmers, need to adopt scientific farming practices such as the application of mechanization in the sector. This will enhance productivity of the sector thus farmers earning more incomes.
“Government is working with development partners to establish these regional mechanization centers with the purpose of supporting farmers to access basic skills in agricultural mechanization alongside being centers where farmers can hire agricultural machinery such as tractors at subsidized prices “Mr. Kenneth said during the launch of the manifesto.
The farmer’s manifesto was developed by Uganda National Farmers Federation in partnership with development partners, the farmer’s manifesto document highlights key issues that the farmers want, all political parties with presidential candidates should consider as key priorities in the agriculture sector.
Key of the issues include; irrigation and climate change, access to agricultural extension services, mechanization and agro processing, access to agricultural inputs alongside access to financing.
According to Ayebare Prudence Policy Research, Advocacy and Lobby Manager at UNFFE mentioned that there are still too many farmers who are using rudimentary tools in agricultural production therefore, government should prioritise the exploration of solutions such as agricultural mechanization. “This will enhance agriculture production thus driving agro-industrialization which is key towards the growth of the country’s economy.” she added.
On the access to quality agricultural inputs, the farmers are calling for government agencies such as the Uganda police, Uganda National Bureau of Standards to arrest and prosecute people dealing in fake agro inputs and products, alongside strengthening and decentralizing the local level inspection capacities for effectiveness in enabling the function of compliance to the standards established for attaining quality agricultural inputs.
Speaking at the same event the Mr. Kenneth challenged all presidential candidates to ensure that they incorporate issues of Agriculture in their manifestos because the sector plays a vital role in supporting the country’s economy.
Why is the agricultural sector important to the country’s economy? The sector is the biggest source of foreign exchange and major source of raw materials for local industries, for many years, the sector has remained the biggest earner of export revenue. Never the less, it is also the most important source of employment, income and overall wellbeing in the country.
In Uganda, over 72% of the working population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, the farmer’s manifesto assessment report indicated that many farmers lacked knowledge on use of improved seeds, fertilizers, acaricides, which limited their production and productivity levels.
Other issues highlighted in the manifesto include lack of markets for their produces, coupled with the long highlighted distance to market centers was seen as some of the hindering factors that led to wastage and selling at giveaway prices by farmers.
Responding to some of the key issues in the farmer’s manifesto, the Minister promised farmers that government is committed to addressing some of the challenges that were raised in the manifesto. But, he challenged farmers to form farming and marketing cooperatives. This will solve some of the challenges associated with access to markets for their produces.