President Yoweri Museveni has Tuesday officially opened the 25th Annual Agriculture and Trade Show in Jinja.
“Statistics show that 69% of our farmers are in subsistence economy. They’re not making money. Leaders at local levels must wake up these people. It’s political suicide to maintain them in that state,” Museveni said.
He said when farmers move to commercial farming, it should be with ‘ekibalo’ [well calculated].
“You should avoid ventures which need vast land like growing sugarcane, maize, tobacco, cotton.”
He said the NRM 1996 Manifesto spelt out the four-acre model; one acre coffee, one fruits, one food, one pasture, noting that “we can’t go on doing ‘mark time’ (stay in one place yet burning calories)”.
Political leaders should know that technocrats won’t mobilise the masses for this cause, Museveni said, adding that leaders must be humble like the people and mobilise them to embrace this.
“Then we have poor farming methods like not following contours especially in highland areas like Rwenzori, Kigezi. Cultivation should be transverse not longitudinally. If you don’t, we will have massive soil erosion.”
He said this also helps conserve water which raises the issue of irrigation.
“We need water but where will it come from if people have invaded granaries of water; the wetlands?”
Museveni said he was recently in Kanungu and the bishop spoke well. For first time, he applauded a bishop. They have formed a religious group to educate the population on wetlands conservation.
Agriculture now includes wetlands conservation and protecting forests on hilltops. God knew what he was doing with creation. Don’t tamper with creation, Museveni advised.
About fertilisers, he said the government and other partners will build a phosphate factory in Tororo, potassium in Katwe.
“We shall have fertilizers here. On improved seeds, Kawanda has these. Kituza, Serere, Namulonge, all have improved seeds. Problem was with tea but we now have improved seedlings for them. But our people need to know and use them.”
Ugandan researchers have done their work. New coffee trees yield five times more than old ones. He wondered why leaders then would not support their people to access these and improve their lives.
“Planting pastures should be our next endeavour. If you cut the grass and feed cows, one acre will be able to cater for 10 cows.
“We shall also handle storage, processing and tractor acquisition. I am very happy to be in Jinja and repeat these issues. By talking and talking we shall finally wake up, implement these and make our country rich.”