SEATTLE, Washington — Uganda is a nation that has made considerable progress in lifting its people out of poverty. A study conducted by the World Bank has found that from 2006 to 2013, the percentage of people living on less than 1.9 dollars a day has fallen from 53.2 percent to 34.6 percent. Part of the reason for this improvement is due to an increase in income from agriculture in Uganda.
Development in Uganda
More than 60 percent of the population relies on Agriculture in Uganda as the main source of income and employment. In addition, 70 percent of Uganda’s export earnings come from the agricultural production of primarily cash crops like cotton, tea, tobacco and coffee. Agricultural exports also provide the majority of raw materials for agro-based industries.
In addition, the development of other aspects of the nation has increased the potential of Uganda’s agricultural sector to empower its people. Urbanization, for example, has grown considerably in Uganda, leading to potential dietary shifts. This increases the demand for high-value foods, better jobs in agriculture and value chains beyond farm production.
Given the importance of agricultural income growth, individuals such as Sam Agona, founder of Agri Farm House, have been working to increase Uganda’s agricultural output. The World Bank has acknowledged that “modernizing agriculture is critical to empowering the poor and vulnerable.” This is because access to improved extension services, quality inputs and credit could better the livelihoods of small farmers and further reduce poverty.
Agona placed an emphasis on using technology in his agribusiness. “We designed and developed tools to manage logistics, inventory, cash flow management and also staff management while in office and in the field…It eliminated the need to communicate through time-consuming phone calls and kept comprehensive financial documentation for the enterprise.” This technology has improved the efficiency of the agribusiness.
Economic Growth and Food Security
The government has also taken initiatives to improve agricultural income growth through its Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). The plan’s primary goal was to reduce the poverty in Uganda from 35 percent in 2000 to less than 10 percent by 2017. PEAP’s goals were also focused on agriculture in Uganda. They aimed to modernize the nation’s agricultural business by maximizing economic growth as well as decreasing income inequality by getting the poor involved in economics. At the same time, it was also promoting sustainable economic growth through stable practices.
Improved agricultural practices could also potentially improve food security in Uganda. In 2016, the global hunger index score for Uganda was 26.4. This labeled the country’s level of hunger as “serious” and placed it at 87 out of 118 developing countries. Malnutrition is also a significant economic burden on a country. In 2014, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) found that Uganda spends approximately 899 million dollars a year on malnutrition. Improving agricultural methods would increase food insecurity and alleviate the financial burden of the country as a whole.
The Africa Growth Institute at Brookings encourages the government to improve agricultural security by increasing access to productivity-enhancing inputs like credit, fertilizers and improved seeds. In addition, the Institute is also pushing the government to mitigate the impact of income and consumption shock on households and communities.
Investing in Agriculture
Agriculture in Uganda has a wide impact on people’s livelihoods because it is a source of income, it can positively impact the economy and it serves as a source of food. Given its potential, the nation’s government, non-profit organizations and courageous individuals are seeing the value in further investing in agriculture. With the continued efforts from these groups of people combined, it seems like the positive trend in Uganda will continue for the years to come.
– Iris Gao