It is important that all sector players understand the direction Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is taking to spur food security and transformation of the rural poor through agricultural enterprise selection and promotion.
FIRST, the target set by the government in order to transform the majority of farmers from subsistence to commercial farmers is to raise national average family income to at least Ushs.20 million per year (Prosperity For All (PFA) 2009)). This is possible and there are some farmers already getting this income from either single or a combination of enterprises (e.g. Dairy, Poultry, Tea, Cocoa, Oil Palm, Coffee, Fruits and Vegetables etc).
SECOND, the process of transforming the farmers involves imparting knowledge and skills and offering the means to implement the ideas on improved production. The direction is to enable extension workers reach, teach and empower more farmers from the estimated 25% in 2011 of farmers currently getting extension advice to about 90% by 2016.
THIRD, there is need to ensure food security, farmer’s incomes and increased volumes and value of exports. In this connection, a number of enterprises have been identified as priority. Food security crops including maize, beans, rice, bananas, cassava, diary cattle, beef cattle and fish. Export crops include coffee, tea, cotton, cocoa, oil crops. With the development of Regional Markets, even those crops characterized as food crops are now cash crops and exportable.
FOURTH, real production and productivity in agriculture will come about by investing in technology development (Research, seed, fertilizer), water for crops and animals, mechanization, pest and disease control etc). They form a common denominator to raising crops, animals and fish.
FIFTH, Value addition is very important in order to minimize post harvest looses and to improve quality of agricultural products. It will be efficient to achieve value addition when production is stepped up through cluster and zonal production.
SIXTH, the agriculture sector will promote organized groups including cooperatives to produce large quantities of commodities. This will require improvement of on farm post harvest handling, appropriate stores and where appropriate some factories.
SEVENTH, financing agriculture must also capture the uniqueness of seasons and farming systems. The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has so far accepted to release the funds under the NAADS Programme in two tranches to address the purchase of biological inputs such as seed, cuttings and clones to meet seasonality.
EIGHTH, the Ministry is negotiating for increased allocations to pest and disease control and a quick mechanism for the release of funds to address the pest and disease outbreak emergencies e.g. Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Banana Bacterial Wilt etc. The long process of requisitioning for funds is not helpful when there is already a sudden attack.