Younger Busoga: Busoga, with a population of above four million about 10% of Uganda’s total population, majority of whom are below 31 years, is faced with high poverty levels mainly due to low house hold incomes.
That situation is despite the natural endowment of good climate and vast expanses of good arable land all surrounded by big water sources: Rivers Nile, Mpologoma and Lakes Kyoga, Victoria among others.
Going by the belief of taking an advantage from every misfortune one has, this semi-illiterate youthful force can be turned into a good productive labour resource if guided into sustainable profitable and productive agriculture through the enhancement of Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) and a good agribusiness strategy.
Such a strategy must include among other things mobilisation, sensitisation, availing good and affordable agricultural inputs, trainings and locally availing cottage agricultural processing plants to help in value addition and shelf-life enhancement hence price regulation / stabilization and enable the locally produced goods have a competitive edge on the local, regional and international market.
In summary we must aim at producing from the garden to the super market shelves. Government may notfully provide free services but must get involved in the mobilisation, sensitisation, trainings, commercially availing affordable capital to the entrepreneurs who in turn avail the identified required inputs for that area.
This calls for the different government departments to closely work together to achieve the desired goal. We then can identify the different interest groups say for Animal husbandry: Diary/ Beef cattle, Poultry, Piggery, Rabbit keeping, Bee keeping or crop husbandry: coffee, maize, beans, matoke, cocoa, etc
These can then be given tailored training to ensure maximum quality productivity. For example, dairy farmers should be trained and encouraged to gradually shift to cross breed Zero grazing cattle that can give a minimum of 30 litres of milk per day by exploiting the well-stocked and facilitated National breeding centre at Kasolwe.
Efforts are underway to bring in cows that can yield up to 60 litres a day. These cattle can easily be fed on the much
abundant sugarcane leaves/ tops which when mixed with some molasses and other food nutrients provide good silage that can last up to six months. Identified extension workers can be facilitated to ensure the targeted farmers are provided with the basic training and required facilities especially the Artificial insemination services (AIS) when closely monitored. Through these core farmers, other farmers can learn and copy. silage cutters and trainings on silage preparation need be provided.
Furthermore, if we identify 100 farmers in every sub county each of which can keep 5 cows that can each give 30 litres of milk per day, thus 15,000 litres of milk per day and a worth of 15million per day per sub county at 1k per litre which is 1,650 million in the 110sub counties of Busoga per day. Each of these 110 ×100 =11,000 farmers can at least employ a permanent worker earning at least $150 per month, thus $5 per day. Well above the UN $1 poverty level. Each farmer can earn a gross of 4.5m per month.
If aggregated, this milk will require establishment of milk collection centres with coolers, scheming plants to remove the fats(omuzigo), and finally the processing of milk products such as Butter, Cheese etc. This is where govt can come in.
The same can be replicated on the different production lines of choice. This kind of farming fits well in our fragmented and small land holding which is now less than 2 acres per house hold on average. Let us look at crop husbandry and in particular maize. With GAPs, an acre of maize can give you at least 20 bags of maize 100kgs at shs1,000 a kilo, a farmer can earn two million in a season and four million in a year.
This can be achieved if farmers are closely working together with good professional supervision and available in puts. With quality products locally available the acronym/term BUBU will cease to be a political term but carry its real meaning. Idleness will cease to be because of readily available profitable engagements across.
This approach will help in the diversification of income sources & discourages Direct Foreign Investments. It aims at gradually building local capacity through incentives and skills training backed by discipline & strict enforcement measures. It calls for technology transfer approaches. It promotes professionalism and gradual industrialisation.
The writer(Tucker Mugogo) is a social development commentator