Zonal agriculture is key to industrialising Uganda

In aspiring towards an industrialised economy, the biggest challenge is the unavoidable necessity to support our farmer community to produce continuously, in quantity as well as quality, enough to meet the fiscal value market demands of a profit-minded export market.
Once confronted by a similar challenge, Israel- from where I just returned as one of the first lot of student interns that had successfully completed an 11-month long agri-business training – adopted a robust agricultural policy as the basis for a shift from an agrarian to an industrialised economy.
Achieving an industrialised economy remains Uganda’s most ambitious vision. But whereas government is showing the much-needed political will, without adapting our agricultural policy and instituting a robust structural framework, this vision will remain a pipe dream. Uganda could adopt what the Israeli experiment successfully proved right, namely that sustainable intensive agriculture, which is a prerequisite for industry, is best undertaken through enterprise consolidation, done by dedicating the production of export demand products to climatic and ecologically friendly zones. These demand export agricultural commodities have to be assorted by government and devolved for intensive zonal production.
In Uganda, the greater eastern region, predominantly semi-arid, is traditionally suited for fruit growing. The establishment of one of Uganda’s oldest research institutes, the National Semi Arid Research Institute (NaSARRI) in Serere, to research and adapt cereals and fruits, was an early recognition of this fact. It is, therefore, proper that this region could be zoned to concentrate on the production of select export value fruits. This way, it will become easy to set up fruit-specialised industries to regions so as to target the farm enterprise in those regions. The recent establishment of the fruit processing factory in Soroti is a vague image of what this model could accomplish.
In the same way, central Uganda is climatically and traditionally known to thrive in the production of coffee, another export demand commodity it could also be zoned to specialise in the production of coffee. And to complete the chain, coffee support industries would be instituted. The same could be done in northern Uganda and in the west, depending on what suits their climatic and ecological settings. The idea is that each household in a given zone has to dedicate, say a quarter of its total production land to a select crop. If the government clusters the Teso sub-region to grow fruits, for example, then each household must assort a specified portion of land to growing oranges.
The inherent aantages of this model are numerous. To begin with, it will ease the provision of extension services as government will accredit the right professionals to serve and support specific zones. With production intensive, and guaranteed, support infrastructure and complementary industry such as value addition factories will spring up to complete a zonal chain of dependent factories. Of equal aantage is that this model would revive the cooperative movement throughout the country. Most importantly, however, it would, besides encouraging, technically limit the number of cooperatives to deal in specific products, thus making them more meaningful and productive.
Because farmer communities will be zoned to target crops, implementing pest and disease attack interventions will be simplified. And not only this, it will also become easy for government to support farm mechanisation and to disseminate technologies such as irrigation to increase farm productivity and support expanding industries.
Enyetu holds a Bachelors of Agricultural Mechanisation and Irrigation Engineering. 2ellertonjosh@gmail.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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