Agriculture is by far the single most important economic activity in Africa. It provides employment for about two-thirds of the continent’s working population and for each country contributes an average of 30 to 60 percent of gross domestic product and about 30 percent of the value of exports. Nonetheless, arable land and land under permanent crops occupy only about 6 percent of Africa’s total land area.
Arable land is defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as land currently used, or potentially capable of being used, to grow seasonal crops. This definition excludes land used for pasturing, for tree-farming (or “silviculture”), or for more durable agricultural products such as vineyards, orchards, and coffee and rubber plantations. Non-arable land can sometimes be made arable, for example by removing forests or tilling pasture land. Some land, such as mountains, tundra, or desert, is permanently non-arable.
A certain great man once said, “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all.’’ In all wisdom implied, you can not get through with life without consenting to the enormous benefits of what the soil can offer. Simply put; every one desires to do what is most appropriate and what is acceptable in the practice of agriculture.
For a fact, we have seen young farmers that have skipped the process and want to make it big in a span of months. Without patience, resilience and hard work, you cannot get best results. The most prominent farmers of today have cultivated a life of waiting and continual improvement. This has been seen even in the approach towards mechanization. We have seen a lot more effort by these commercial farmers in generating and making inquiries about how best they can break even in agribusiness. What has facilitated this is nothing other than employing measures such as; trusting in government schemes that have been re-laid through financial institutions intergrated agricultural lending facilities which gives farmers up to 12% Per Annum Interest rates; Change of attitude(mindset) towards the practice has helped even a greater percentage; Evaluating the mentorship options available either through the men of old or the most prominent commercial farmers.
This has strongly encouraged more people to engage in commercial farming. Take an instance, in the Northern region of Uganda, with a lot of virgin land available many farmers are now not afraid to start because there is available funding. Group Lending through the financial institutions has been notable in most of these areas as a way of reinstating the practice. For example; Mohammed Kojja (as his preferred code name), a resident of Nwoya has for 20 years devoted his time and money in growing Maize. This has yielded him great harvest of a minimum of 5000 bags every season. He has gone ahead to secure grain handling equipment; Two extra Tractors; Trailers to help him in Transportation among others. When we spoke to him, he explained that his dream is way bigger than what is already seen and he hopes to use his farms as demonstration centres for young farmers who may otherwise think about agriculture.
We can no longer ignore creating the best environment to facilitate better and modern farming. All we have to do is start, and the time is now.
By Willy Mwesigwa