By Ambrose Gahene
President Yoweri Museveni has called upon stakeholders in the Agriculture sector to sensitize subsistence farmers to switch to commercial Agriculture. President Museveni made the call during the official opening of the 25th Annual Agriculture and Trade Show in Jinja, last week.
“Statistics show that 69 per cent of our farmers are in subsistence economy. They’re not making money. Leaders at local levels must wake up these people. It’s political suicide to maintain them in that state.
And when they move to commercial farming, it should be with ‘ekibalo’. You should avoid ventures which need vast land like growing sugarcane, maize, tobacco and cotton”, said Museveni.
He added that; the NRM 1996 Manifesto spelt out the four-acre model; one acre coffee, one fruits, one food, one pasture. “We can’t go on doing ‘mark time’ (stay in one place yet burning calories).
The President further said: “Political leaders should know that technocrats won’t mobilize the masses for this cause. The leaders must be humble like the people and mobilize them to embrace this. Then we have poor farming methods like not following contours; especially in highland areas like Rwenzori and Kigezi. Cultivation should be transverse not longitudinally. If you don’t, we will have massive soil erosion”, he added.
He in addition said; this also helps conserve water. “This raises the issue of irrigation. We need water but where will it come from, if people have invaded granaries of water; the wetlands?” “I was recently in Kanungu and the bishop spoke well. I applauded the bishop. They’ve formed a religious group to educate the population on wetlands conservation”, revealed President Museveni.
He also emphasized that; Agriculture now includes wetlands conservation and protecting forests on hilltops. “God knew what he was doing with creation. Don’t tamper with creation. About fertilizers, the government and other partners will build a phosphate factory in Tororo and potassium in Katwe. We shall have fertilizers here”, he emphasized further.
He applauded Kawanda Research Institute, Kituza, Serere and Namulonge; for producing improved seeds. “Ugandan researchers have done their work. New coffee trees yield five times more than old ones. Why wouldn’t leaders then support their people to access these and improve their lives?” he asked, adding that;”Planting pastures should be our next endeavor”.