What should farmers do?

Saturday August 10 2019

Michael J. Ssali

Michael J. Ssali 

By Michael J. Ssali

On June 10 2019, an Australian farmer, John Gladigau, wrote an interesting article about the use of agricultural chemicals by farmers and published it on his LinkedIn page.
He was reacting to what he termed ‘people with little agricultural knowledge’ lecturing to farmers about the dangers of chemicals, their contribution to a changing climate, soil health, their turning to genetically engineered crop varieties, and a lot more when in fact the farmers spend their lifetime working in the fields and trying out different strategies aimed at maximising production since, for most of them, it is their only way of earning a living and supporting their families. “It hurts when people tell us we are cruel to animals, don’t care for the future of the planet and are blasé about food safety whereas for the majority of us the opposite is true,” Gladigau wrote.
In Uganda the campaign to avoid the use of agricultural chemicals has been mainly been spearheaded by foreign funded NGOs claiming to promote organic farming and to protect biodiversity, soil health, and the environment. Others have asserted that continued use of chemicals will kill the market for our farm products locally and abroad. Plants like other living things get attacked by diseases every now and again for which a remedy must be sought.
Humans go to hospitals where chemicals (medicines) are prescribed. For sick livestock the vet prescribes medicine. Sometimes humans and livestock have to be immunised against particular diseases. Potatoes, maize, and a whole range of other crops are attacked by pests and diseases that have to be fought with pesticides. Some crop diseases are incurable and plant scientists have resorted to genetic engineering as a solution.
Strangely, the anti-science NGOs call upon farmers not to apply pesticides and not to plant improved crop varieties that are disease resistant.
For farmers that cannot use motorised machines to efficiently clear weeds herbicides tend to be a better option to using a hand hoe.
— ssalimichaelj@gmail.com