With over 10,400,000 citizens connected to mobile phones in Uganda (according to International Communication Union) over 5,000,000 browsing internet daily and millions tuning into more than 228 fm radio stations broadcasting in local languages – Do we still need the kind of cooperatives that operated in 1970’s and 1980s to connect farmers and small businesses to markets? Calls for revival of Cooperatives are a hot and rehearsed issue, amongst, especially opposition politicians and operatives. Possibly bending a bit to pressure, government rebranded the Ministry to Trade Tourism and Industry to Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives! Alas- this Cooperative narrative needs to be re-imagined in current Uganda. We need to be talking about new ways of organizing and governing markets. If old cooperatives don’t change, what is left of them will soon disappear.
Uganda has only 1600 extension workers mandated to serve 4,000, 000 million farmer households in Uganda giving a ratio of 1: 2500 farmer households.
The rural nature of most farms remains a challenge to graduate and fresh extension workers from college as these fresh professionals often prefer enjoying the trappings of peri-urban life.
How do we crack this state of affairs? Do we leave solutions to policy makers and technocrats? Do we call for reinstatement and restoration of regional district farm demonstrations and stock farms?
A solution may perhaps lie in a stronger role of the private sector such as engaging in public –private partnerships and embracing technology. There is a pool of Extension Link farmers that were in late 1990’s trained by Uganda National Farmers Federation all over Uganda. Mobile phones technology can be used to complement extension efforts. Could such a model bring down the current expansive farmer-extension worker ratio and abridge the current information gap at the farm level?
The most widely recognized function of soil is its support for food production. It is the foundation for agriculture and the medium in which nearly all food-producing plants grow. In fact, it is estimated that 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils. Healthy soils supply the essential nutrients, water, oxygen and root support that our food-producing plants need to grow and flourish. Soils also serve as a buffer to protect delicate plant roots from drastic fluctuations in temperature.
Ensuring food safety is a public health priority, and an essential step to achieving food security. Effective food safety and quality management systems are key not only to safeguarding the health and well-being of people but also to fostering economic development and improving livelihoods by promoting access to domestic, regional and international markets