10 Ugandan Agricultural Learnings

Here are a few of the interesting things that I’ve learned about Agriculture as it is practiced here in Uganda.

  • Climate – is tropical with little day to day temperature variation. Minimums in the teens rise up to maximums in the high 20s-low 30s. Average annual rainfall here is around 1200mm. This is three times the 400mm rainfall we receive at home. However the vast majority of this rain occurs during the two wet seasons between April-May and September-October.
  • Population – Uganda is a country of 32-35 million people, with a majority rural population. There are more farmers in Uganda than there are people in Australia. The party that wins the rural vote wins office in Uganda, something that as an Aussie, I could only smile at.
  • Scale – Those millions of farmers are mostly subsistence or small-scale farmers. There are only a handful of large commercial farms here, with heaps of land that isn’t developed. Farm sizes mostly vary in size from ½ an acre to 10 acres. Farms bigger than this would be considered commercial farms here.
  • Soils – The farmland here is very fertile and when farmed well, very productive. We’ve visited many picturesque volcanic crater lakes, which not only look pretty, but give agricultural types an indication that it’s good dirt.
  • Labour – Farm work is basically all manual labour, with picks, machetes, hoes, and shovels. When you can hire workers for only a couple of dollars a day, mechanisation is expensive. The only tractors I’ve seen have been small Massey Fergusons or the Indian ‘Mahindra’ tractors.
  • Family – A 10 acre farm that is managed well, could provide a good basic standard of living for a family here in Uganda.
  • Mindset – With so much manual labour, agriculture is generally not seen as a desirable profession here. Many people will move to the towns/cities to look for work while leaving their farmland sitting nearly idle. A tremendous opportunity wasted, but you can see why it happens.
  • Crops – Some of the major crops grown here are Matoke (bananas), maize (corn), sugar cane, tea and coffee.
  • Livestock – Goats! Goats and more goats. Also, pigs and cattle. No sheep due to the hot tropical conditions. Also, an abundance of water and a good income means fish farming is quite popular.
  • Markets – Getting produce to the big population centres here is a challenge, with food prices higher in the cities than surrounding regions. For fresh fruit and vegetables there is always a market.

Jonathan

Web developer turned farmer. Interests include: my faith, my wife, technology, cricket, farming, ice cream & world events.

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