Population explosion: The main agricultural snag

Saturday March 16 2019



Michael J. Ssali

Michael J. Ssali 

By Michael J. Ssali

Crop production is bound to be a big challenge given the current circumstances under which farmers work.
One of the immediate challenges is growing land fragmentation due to uncontrolled population growth.
Traditional inheritance rules in many communities dictate that every child gets a piece of the garden when the head of the household dies.
The children then occupy the inherited pieces of the garden and go ahead to produce more children than they can actually support.
On March 7 the Minister of Agriculture, Vincent Ssempijja, handed out tractors, cars, and motorcycles to district leaders across the country for use in various agricultural extension services activities.
We expect the service extension officers to teach smallholder farmers how to carry out commercial farming on small plots of land besides providing advice on good farming practices.
However for as long as land fragmentation continues due to rapid population growth, there is bound to be a limit to garden sub-division.
The tractors provided by the government will not be of much benefit to farmers working on hardly an acre of land although they are the majority of our farmers. Population pressure depletes soils and reduces farm yields. Agricultural services extension work should include highlighting the benefits of family planning.
Shortage of farming space has led to violent land conflicts and the invasion of natural forests and wetlands by poor, landless, peasants, which has further complicated our natural environment issues.
Moreover, our political leaders have been slow to accept new agricultural technologies that other countries such as South Africa Sudan and many others adopted long ago and are now enjoying their benefits. The nations chose to embrace new technologies to develop faster maturing and better yielding disease-resistant and drought-tolerant crop varieties to counter a changing climate and infertile soils.
South Africa accepted Genetically Engineered maize in 1996, cotton in 1997, and soybean in 2001 and today the results speak for themselves.
Uganda has all along dilly-dallied about embracing the technology as climate change, depleted soils, pests and diseases slow down its agricultural production.
We have listened more to anti-science groups instead of accepting our own scientists’ research findings.

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