From the time i was a toddler, i have learnt that people in my birth place Ruyonza survive almost entirely on agriculture. I have now grown as a man, read a lot about modern farming techniques, farm management, market analysis and so on. What still troubles me however is, are my own people ready for the changes happening to farming and agriculture in our country and in Africa. The challenges we face are new ranging from infertile/over-exhausted land fields, lack of information on markets, producing wrong crops and quantities for available markets, outdated farm management practices, lack of associations (formerly cooperatives) that bring farmers together and boost their bargaining potential, impassable roads that make transportation of farm produce to markets difficult, inequality in technology usage and innovations to mention but a few.
Using an example of my birthplace (Ruyonza), farmers still grow mostly what they can eat or trade locally, the way they’ve always grown it. It will be Maize, beans, ground nuts, Cassava, sweet potatoes as usual in the March/July season and then Millet, Maize, beans and sorghum in the September/January season. Shocking?? This has never changed.
There are new crops and animal breeds running like fire in the Ugandan markets for example passion fruits, poultry, bee keeping, Fish farming, Improved Zero grazing; all these have eroded a place i call home. Commercialized agriculture is only picking up with coffee being one of the crops giving good money to the poor Ugandans living in Ruyonza Ibanda District. There is a big gap in access to information on markets in that at a point a farmer doesn’t know how much of their produce the market needs and what they are going to be paid for their produce on the market.
Imagine a small scale farmer who can discover easily that Cassava and carrots are expected to fetch a high price this year. He/she can also contact fellow small scale farmers to grow the same crops at different times of the year while employing modern farming techniques (like Irrigation and use of fertilizers) and supply in bulk consistently to a customer who needs supply of Cassava and carrots all year round. And if they are assured of sale at harvest, they will do whatever it takes to maximize their yields. If government could also organize agricultural improvement talks and demonstrations at least quarterly at all sub counties, it could be easy for farmers to know what crop varieties to grow in the available soils without making losses in crops that fail to mature as desired because they were grown on wrong soils.
When information is made accessible to everyone and can flow easily the cost of doing business in agriculture reduces as well as the cost of managing risks involved with agriculture. So, how is Pius contributing to Technology usage and commercialization of agriculture in Ruyonza? I am glad am taking part this year with Fish farming and Piggery in March, start with 2 Saanen goats (If you can get me the goats contact me) as understudy . I am also reading about passion fruit growing and I am weighing in the prospect of adding #passionfruits to my many projects I am running this year. And as a graduate of Information Technology, I am not planning to leave #Tech out of the farming equation; always using my phone to consult, open up discussions on improving agricultural yields, learning new ways of farming, attending online seminars, streaming to educating and insightful videos that talk agriculture and organizing #Agricultural seminars at my sub-county and task district agricultural and environment officers to educate people on Agriculture and changing trends. I remain your truly Ruyonzan Pius Muhamya.