Saturday, August 27, 2011

Low Quality Farming Materials affecting Youth Farmers and their Solutions

Low quality tools, seeds and farming methods are affecting farmers' yields alot more today especially in Uganda. For instance, the Daily Monitor reports that there are a lot of fake seedlings and diseased plant seedlings being sold on the market today.



This has come to the notice of the minister of agriculture who acknowledges that "the country is currently short of good seeds" which is greatly affecting it's production. This is only one of the problems young farmers hoping to earn a living from starting agricultural businesses are facing.

Here are more low quality farming materials:

  1. Fake seeds on the market or seedlings with diseases leading to poor or no yields affecting income.
  2. Low quality tools such as counterfeit hoes and pangas forcing the farmer to buy new tools repeatedly which can easily swallow up his profit.
  3. Depleted soils with very low yields after they have been farmed unsustainably for generations decreasing income.
  4. Manual labour tools such as hoes as opposed to using machinery such as tractors limiting the scale of what is possible to farm. For instance, with a hoe, a young farmer can manage to farm 1 acre of land unlike a tractor which can farm over 20 acres.
  5. Subsistence farming means you have to live from hand to mouth, so that you are hindered in planning ahead or investing any money that you do not have upfront. The form of living is today, today, today!
Solutions

Fake Seeds: As a young farmer, always buy seeds from verified government centres instead of nursery bed traders on the street. These are centres such as naads and national agricultural research organization
Also report the companies or organizations trading in fake seeds and seedlings to the National Seed Certification Services as Uganda radio network reports.

Young farmers should stop the act of borrowing and sourcing seeds and other planting materials from one another as these spreads diseases such as the case in Kenya at the moment where diseases such as bulb rot which affects Arabicum flowers and browning in Mobydick, diseases which currently have no known cure.

Poor tools: As for the case of tools, the farmer should extensively test the tools before full purchase. Make sure they are not made of metals such as aluminium which is very soft therefore rendering the tools useless after just a single use.

Depleted soils should be allowed to recover their fertility by planting legumes such as beans, mulching with humus or leaving the land for several months without growing anything on it. Young farmers must make an active effort to learn and practice sustainable farming methods.

Heavy farming machinery: Young farmers should look into forming or joining existing youth farmers groups which have a bigger purchasing power than a single farmer. This way, the members can afford such heavy farming machinery such as tractors which can increase agricultural production of each member.

In Uganda, NAADS is facilitating youth farmers groups to buy tractors as this article states. So check with the local NAADS office in your area. In eastern Uganda, tractors could already be available for youth farmers under the Frontpage microfinance initiative as this 2006 article states.

Save for the future: As a young farmer, always remember to save some money to continuously improve your production capacity. You can bank your money on your mobile phone using the services of mobile money providers such as MTN or by joining a young farmers group. This is the easiest way to keep money since the banks are often very far away from rural areas and often close very early in the afternoon.

This is not an exhaustive list. We welcome any ideas and suggestions you wish to be added on this list. Please leave it below in the comments.

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