Honourable Dr. Ezra Suruma, the then Minister of Finance, Planning and economic Development in his Budget Speech for 2005/06 Fiscal Year, whose theme was: “Promoting Economic Growth and Household Incomes through increased savings, Investment, Employment and Productivity,” happened to allocate Ushs 7bn to Integrated Support to Farmer Groups.
He said, “the rural development strategy hinges on the provision of Integrated Support to farmer groups to increase productivity through better agricultural practices, improvement in input supply channels and producer – buyer linkages. This support would initially be targeted at selected crops, in order to raise their production significantly and to impact the livelihood of the greatest number of poor households. Activities involved are to include sensitization and mobilization of farmers into farmer groups, including the formation of at least 8,980 farmer groups and organizations.”
He further said, “government would intensify provision of appropriate technologies and input kits including fertilizers, improved seed, pesticides and herbicides and cooperative storage facilities. This action would encompass provision of Integrated Support to 4,000 farmer groups. Input kits comprising improved seed, a fertilizer pack and pesticide spray would be provided to Maize, Rice, Simsim and Soya bean farmers.”
The Hon. Minister’s idea if appropriately implemented would not be a bad idea, however, what is most critical for farmers to day in Uganda (2005) is market for their farm products. Farmers have a cross section of produce from upland rice, Moringa, Vanilla to mention but a few, out of which they would earn good income if government invested in capacity for agro-processing. Our farmers are very vulnerable simply because they market what they produce in its raw form.
The viable and sustainable way to go is to put up capacity to process the farmers’ produce, and from the money the farmers earn, they would afford o buy the inputs needed, and this is in a sustainable way. People have Moringa throughout Uganda, and there ia talk about Fortified foods for what? Why can’t we get capacity to process Moringa leaf powder (like Tea leaves are) and distribute it/sell it cheaply to whoever needs Vitamin A Supplement?
The way to go is to have agro-processing capacity and not kits to farmers when marketing produce remains the major problem.