Fragmenting land hurts food security

According to statistics from Food and Agricultural Organisation, farm lands are increasingly dwindling. In 10 years, Uganda has witnessed significant decline in land to person ratio. Numbers of people with at least one hectare of agricultural land has declined by 16 per cent. This is largely as a result of inheritance and population growth, as well as absence of effective regulations.
Investors continue to scramble to buy large chunks of land in the countryside, meaning many families are selling their land thus reducing farm land for entire communities. Also, elders divide family land among children and the size given depends on the number of beneficiaries available. So, if a family of eight children owns eight hectares, each child takes one hectare.
With population growth, the one hectare is in turn shared among the grandchildren and the grandchildren will do the same for their children, or even sell their portions to willing buyers. Eventually, this undermines sustainable use of such land. Many countries still have to either establish laws to govern land fragmentation and use of agricultural land or enforce such laws if they exist.
Memories from my childhood years of making long journeys to the village to visit our grandmother are still fresh. Our grandmother would send us to the silo where there was always plenty of foodstuffs. The surplus was usually sold and variety of seeds reserved for subsequent next planting seasons. There was also a lot of land in the village planting a variety of crops. Some foodstuffs like potatoes were preserved by peeling and slicing before drying for storage.
At the end of holidays, our grandmother would pack beans, maize, millet, dry cassava and potatoes to carry along. Food was available because farm land was vast and it meant harvests were plenty, which guaranteed food security.
Nowadays, a lot has changed in the villages. What used to be hectares of land have now become small plots. Our grandparents divided family land equally among their six children before they passed on. All six children and families have increased. These increased numbers have also increased pressure on the already fragmented land. Considering that this is the same practice among many other families, the future is not bright at all as far as food insecurity is concerned.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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