Why continous farmer education is necessary

Michael J. Ssali

What you need to know:

  • There are always new issues to face for the farmer and therefore it is necessary to be on the alert all the time and to seek new knowledge about how to overcome those problems.

Farming is a constant battle between the farmer and weeds, pests, crop and animal diseases, soil depletion, droughts and rainstorms, among other challenges.

There are always new issues to face for the farmer and therefore it is necessary to be on the alert all the time and to seek new knowledge about how to overcome those problems.

One way to seek new knowledge is to talk to fellow farmers about the challenges. Somebody, somewhere, not far from where you live, could know how to overcome what you consider to be a big obstacle.

Another way is to keep an active relationship with the area agricultural extension officer. In every sub-county in Uganda there are government employed officers whose duty is to advise farmers on what to do about different emerging issues.  New farming knowledge can also be obtained from attending agricultural shows, and farmers meetings or seminars whenever they are organised in the area.  Usually there are brochures and hand-outs that are given or sold to participants.

Every farmer should seek access to such materials because they are assembled by people and organisations that are certified and well qualified to supply such information. There was a time, for example, when farmers always fought weeds by physically removing them using tools such as hand hoes. However over the years new ways of fighting weeds were introduced.  Today many people use spray pumps and herbicides to kill weeds. But the farmers must learn how to use the herbicides safely and it is therefore necessary for them to seek instruction on how to go about safe usage of the chemicals. There are always arrivals of new pests and diseases that impede agricultural production. There are also new challenges that crop up such as droughts and malnutrition which must be addressed. 

Scientists in universities and such organisations as National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) keep working on solutions to the problems and they often dispense literature that can help farmers to overcome various problems.

Every farmer should therefore seize every opportunity to get access to the literature. At every visit to a farmers’ show it is prudent for the farmer to pick any leaflets and brochures that are supplied at the different stalls. They are an important source of knowledge about, for example, how to store grain, how to plant particular crops, where to obtain good seed varieties, and how to fight diseases. 

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