We must improve peasant farming

Saturday August 4 2018

By Michael J. Ssali

In the introduction to his book “The Struggle for Land in Buganda” Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo, says: “Peasants must be part of our agrarian revolution through the improvement of their farms.”
He goes on to state that floating masses of poor and landless peasants will not allow the landlords to lie comfortably in their beds because when people have no stake in their own country they become disrespectful of the rights of those who have.
It is quite common today to see people being evicted from land they know to be theirs.
Large corporations and foreign investors are taking up large areas to grow single crops such as sugar cane or palm trees surrounded by impoverished peasants.
Often those rendered landless have no alternative means of earning a living. We also see small plots of land subdivided and shared among brothers and sisters to practice farming.
Yet various leaders keep calling upon everybody to work hard to fight poverty and to achieve food security.
The peasants are expected to practice good crop and animal husbandry to come up with high and quality yields.
As Lunyiigo further explains some people are merely speculators and they purchase land not to develop it but rather to sell it for profit.
So what have we done to regulate land ownership conditions for our peasants to be sure that they are not about to be evicted and therefore be encouraged to practice gainful agriculture on their small plots of land?
When they occupy land whose tenure they are unsure of they tend to be reluctant to grow highly paying perennial crops like coffee or to install boreholes and durable irrigation equipment like water pipes.
Where the farmer has no security of land tenure it is difficult to expect him to take good care of the soil for sustained production.
And, what have we done to practically teach agriculture in our education systems?
Why do we allow schools to operate without school gardens or farms if agriculture is important in the economy of our country? Where do we expect our peasant farmers to acquire farming skills from?