UGANDA: WHY TIME BOUND CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE IS DIFFICULT TO PRACTISE IN NORTHERN UGANDA

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Mr. Geoffrey Anywar, the Gulu district Agriculturalists, addressing the media

“A farmer who decides to plant sorghum today, which takes six months to mature, may not get the same quantity of the yield as it was in the past. It would yield fewer crops because there is not enough rain these days. That is why we are telling farmers that agriculture is time bound. Farmers should learn to adopt climate smart practices. You should spend the least time possible to produce the same amount of crops”.

“If you are going to open your land in two weeks it means you will receive less rain by two weeks also. If it rains for three months and you plant a crop which takes three months to mature, it means your crops will be ready for harvest if you spend less time in land preparation involving the use of mechanization practices like ox-ploughs or tractors instead of getting stuck with hand hoes which takes you two weeks to open the same size of land”.

GULU-UGANDA: According to the Senior Agricultural Engineer in Gulu district, Mr. Anywar Geoffrey, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries    have been telling farmers in northern Uganda to practice Climate smart agriculture if they want to get profits out of their sweat but very few have embraced it.

He says farmers who plant an acre of sorghum, which takes six months to mature, may not get the same amount of the harvested sorghum today than the farmers of the past decades. It would yield fewer crops because the climate has since changed and the world now receives erratic rainfall thereby affecting our yields.

“A farmer who decides to plant sorghum today, which takes six months to mature, may not get the same quantity of the yield as it was in the past. It would yield fewer crops because there is not enough rain these days. That is why we are telling farmers that agriculture is time bound. Farmers should learn to adopt climate smart practices. You should spend the least time possible to produce the same amount of crops”, says Mr. Anywar.

He made these remarks during an ‘expert talk’ on best agricultural practices to journalists of the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) from its center in Gulu Town on Wednesday, January 23, 2019.

He advised farmers in northern Uganda to spend the least time possible in preparing their land for planting because the rainfall pattern has since changed. He said a farmer using hand hoes will take up to two weeks to open up an acre of land whereas it would take a farmer using ox-plough four days to open the same acre of land.

“If you are going to open your land in two weeks it means you will receive less rain by two weeks also. If it rains for three months and you plant a crop which takes three months to mature, it means your crops will be ready for harvest if you spend less time in land preparation involving the use of mechanization practices like ox-ploughs or tractors instead of getting stuck with hand hoes which takes you two weeks to open the same size of land”, Mr. Anywar.

This practice Mr. Anywar said is the concept behind Climate Smart Agriculture. He said it works best when farmers wisely choose the type of seeds to plant in order to make quick money instead of insisting on growing traditional indigenous seeds which are, although sweeter and more tolerant to changing weather patterns, takes more time to mature than improved seeds.

“You should select a variety which takes shorter time to mature to reduce the time spent in farming. You should plant early and if possible a farmer should prepare his/her land during the dry season. You should think ahead of time”, he said.

According to the Gulu district Local government chairman, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, about 70% of farmers in northern Uganda are outside the money economy because they practice subsistence farming.

He says these farmers don’t have means of opening up more land and as a result they put to use less than 40% of the land they own; which is about one and half acres of land to seven acres per person.

“You cannot blame them. Using hand hoes is not feasible. By now a serious farmer should be preparing their land so that by the time rainfall starts, your seeds are already ready. Real farmers have their crops flowering by April”, says the chairman.

Farmers in northern Uganda used to own large herds of cattle before the advent of the General Yoweri Museveni’s regime 33 years ago, but these animals, which were used traditionally as indigenous bank and animal traction, were all rustled away under unclear circumstances. Although government promised cattle restocking, the program is slow and cannot solve the poverty question in the region.

According to Mr. Mapenduzi, the current government program, Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF), will see Gulu district benefitting from ten pairs of oxen plus ox-ploughs to assist subsistence farmers; which according to him is still not enough to combat biting poverty.

The use of other forms of agricultural mechanizations remains restricted to large commercial farms majority if which are in Amuru and Nwoya districts. Outside these farms, small holder farmer are incapable of adopting the other forms of mechanizations involving the use of tractors, combine harvesters, hand pushed tractors and bull dozers due to the multiple barriers like land fragmentation, abundance of woodlands and lack of credits.

 

 

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