Uganda, with its wealth of arable land and water resources, has unrealized agricultural development potential. How food is produced and distributed will impact United Nations Millennium Development Goal targets, including the eradication of extreme hunger, reductions in child mortality, and improvements in maternal health and environmental sustainability, yet advances towards the MDG’s have been limited. This study explores how Uganda’s agricultural sector can be developed in a way that improves the quality of life of smallholder farmers in Katente and Namuyenje parishes in Mukono district, Uganda. Ugandan agricultural production is starved of new sources of knowledge and technology, it is undercapitalized, and farm work is increasingly left to an ageing population as youth migrate to Kampala. This study attempts to answer the question: how can agricultural development lead to a high quality of life? To this end the researcher assessed farmer access to sustainable agriculture techniques and marketing strategies, and farmer quality of life in Mukono.
The researcher’s work was supported by VEDCO, a Ugandan NGO that supports sustainable agricultural livelihoods. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry were used. The researcher observed farms, farming practices, and the living situations of interviewees. The researcher interviewed 29 members of farmer producers groups in Katente and Namuyenje parishes. One interview questionnaire was used for all interviews: it covered basic household demographic information, knowledge of agricultural techniques and challenges, knowledge of marketing strategies, and quality of life indicators. Both qualitative and quantitative measures were used: for example farmers were asked to self-assess their quality of life, and also estimate their average yearly income.
Findings and Discussion:
The average farmer in Katente and Namuyenje parish is 46 years old, owns 6.25 acres of land, earns UGX 2 million each year, supports seven children, and has had seven years of formal education. All farmers had at least some knowledge of how to prevent soil loss and increase soil fertility, although most lacked a diversity of methods. Pest and disease management was the weakest area of sustainable agricultural knowledge. Drought was the greatest agricultural risk faced by farmers, and most farmers had no technology or knowledge for even partial drought management. Since VEDCO began working in the area farmers have formed producer groups and engaged in collective marketing, but many still face challenges, particularly high input costs for poultry care and low prices for egg sales. Quality of life in the two parishes is fair, based on farmer income, access to health and education services and farmers’ own self-assessment. 84% of farmers have experienced positive income change since they began working with VEDCO. In the future, more sustainable agricultural knowledge transfers are needed in the parishes, along with further farmer training in business and recordkeeping. Technology transfers, including irrigation systems and food processing and storage centers would also improve quality of life.
Agriculture | Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability
Ebersole, Jessie, "Rural Futures: How Can Agricultural Development Lead to a High Quality of Life?" (2011). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. Paper 1021.