Recently at the launch of the Parish Development Model in my sub-region of Bugwere, President Museveni ordered Ugandans to vacate wetlands. I concur, global warming is not friendly.
It is unfortunate because swamps are income generating to many of us whose livelihoods depend on rice cultivation. But, we have to leave all the wetlands.
The problem with wetlands policy in Uganda is the political authority itself. You are told to vacate a wetland and someone connected to guns and political authority occupies it.
Wetlands destruction has increased flood and drought damage, nutrient runoff and water pollution, and shoreline erosion, and triggered a decline in wildlife populations.
Wetlands positively impact on water supply. They are a destination for outdoor activities, call it recreation.
They provide visual value as landscape features. They are a meaningful opportunity for education on science, value of water resources and protection.
The wetlands control soil erosion. The roots of wetland plants hold soil in place and reduce the velocity of streams or river currents.
The wetlands are important in building partnerships and they help in flood abatement. They enhance habitat for game and non-game species.
Wetlands remove pollutants, thus, improving water supply and quality. We survive on wetlands, so what are we going to do. When one door closes, say, of rice farming, a big window of another unique opportunity opens up.
Let us continue with rice farming in a modern way, especially, if we have leaders who think right and thinking proper all the time, not only during campaigns.
Today, agribusiness is the way to go. Every crop or any agriculture venture generates cash. How, especially for the local people who are being affected with rice farming?
Farmers have to be zoned first. Then, we study which crops are devoted to that zone land.
There are very good farming models like from Japan that can be employed to our people.
Mindset change is imperative here. Farmers ought to use high yielding varieties (HYV) for farming. This will enable them to get high yields for both domestic and commercial purposes.
Most important, let us practice mixed farming which involves the growing of crops as well as the raising of livestock.
Farmers have to be trained and supported in multiple cropping.
Our people have to do mechanised farming if they are to succeed in agriculture. The zones can be helped in the use of farming machinery like combines harvesters.
And let us use fertilisers, chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, to mention a few, in order to prevent crops from weeds and insects.
This government has many good agriculture policies but they are usually messed up by wrong actors in them from the top itself.
I have been to Butare, Kigali and other parts of Rwanda and I salute the order there. Just get these programmes as they are and give them to Rwanda, they will succeed there.
So what do we have to do, especially for peasants in our villages?
We have to sincerely leave the right people to enter our communities with these agriculture programmes. The right people are field practitioners, the farmers and professionals.
Rightful game-changers in farming will enter a community armed with acronym S.M.A.R.T explaining to our people what is particularly workable for that local area. It has to be real education that works in doing agriculture as a business.
The people have to learn of the presence of ready markets for their agriculture venture and how to access those markets.
If a zone is engaged in say feeds and they are going to produce in large quantities, they need assurance of the market. We have to labour to open their minds if they are to benefit from opportunities in distant places.
Farmers have to be explained to and made to understand doing agriculture S.M.A.R.T way; S=Specific, M=Measurable, A=achievable, T=time-bound.
There is need to widen the mental horizons of farmers. How? Simple, to engage in agriculture as a business. And let us all practice modern agriculture without minding of our levels of education, profession, religion and life ambitions. Take your own step into agriculture. You will harvest milk and honey of the holy Bible.
It’s all about mindset change. Some citizens’ mindset is to sell off a piece of land to buy a motorcycle. Just to ride around or do boda-boda. After a short time, the motorcycle vanishes in oblivion.