Opinion
Address soil infertility concerns
Publish Date: Jul 11, 2014
newvision
  • mail
  • img

By Annet Adong

The current government efforts are directed towards having Uganda transform from a low income to a middle income country.

The agriculture sector has been identified as one key sector to drive the vision 2040. This is because of its potential role to uplift majority of the population, who depend on it as their livelihood source, out of poverty. 

African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP)) estimates that a 6 percent per annum growth in agricultural sector is sufficient to not only reduce by one half the population below the poverty line, but also to substantially reduce the number of the population in absolute poor.

One of the major challenges hindering the attainment of this growth rate is the low production and productivity of the sector. Recently, President Museveni, in the state of the nation address, recommends a four acre approach geared to transforming agriculture from subsistence to a commercial activity.

However it is important to take into consideration the binding factors that currently constrain farmers from transforming agriculture to a business venture. 

First the current status of soils in Uganda is poor. According NARO, the soils in Uganda have been over utilized and deeply weathered. As such, the fertility of the soils has diminished over time due to over cropping, soil erosion and low nutrient replenishment.  Furthermore, the low usage of both organic and inorganic fertilizer has reduced productivity.

As a result, farm yields are much lower than previously achieved. Research has shown that an acre of maize with no fertilizer applied currently yields about 834.14kg with a potential of increasing to between 70 to 120 percent once nitrogen is applied.

In a training workshop of agrochemical inspectors and analysts organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Economic Policy Research Center recently, most scientists emphasized the need for Ugandans to forget the notion that their soils are fertile.  Otherwise there will reach a point in time when they will harvest nothing.

Uganda is one of those countries with the highest nutrient depletion rates in the world and the use of fertilizer is necessary to replace these nutrients and make them available for plants.  But one of the major challenges to fertilizer availability and use has been attributed to the high costs of importation of fertilizer which translates to higher fertilizer prices.

In as much as soil nutrients need to be replenished, farmers being profit maximizers will not use fertilizer if the costs supersede the market price of a given commodity. Unlike Uganda, some developing countries like Malawi have taken up subsidies for fertilizer. However, subsidies partially explain distortionary effects on the economy.

Any prospects to have the costs of fertilizer reduced have hit a snag. The recent budget speech, by the Minister of finance, levied a 18 percent tax on agricultural inputs (fertilizers inclusive).

Therefore, agriculture production and productivity may continue to be low and poverty will prevail as it is unlikely that we shall be able to achieve the 6 percent growth rate as envisioned by CAADP.

There is a need to not only reconsider the tax on agricultural inputs, but also fast track the construction and operationalization of the Tororo phosphates plant which is crucial to addressing fertilizer availability and use.

The writer is a research analyst at Economic Policy Research Centre

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
The Pope and the death penalty
His Holiness Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Uganda in November 2015. One thing most Ugandans do not know about him is that he supports the abolition of the death penalty....
Invest in health entrepreneurship
The Sunday Vision of July 5, 2015, had an article: There is hope for Ugandan health care, by Dr Ian Clarke. The article tells of a family with relevant connections whose poor baby got a fractured head -thanks to expert and qualified doctors, its health was restored....
Can youth interest in agriculture boost East Africa
The African Development Bank, Africa’s biggest lending institution, recently elected a new leader: Akinwumi Adesina. The former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, Adesina led an agricultural transformation in his country....
Transition from MDGs to SDGs must tackle capacity building
The 2015 deadline is fast approaching to bring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to an end. With eight goals to achieve between 2000 and 2015, its outcomes leave a lot to be desired. Many states have not realised their MDG targets as promised....
The predicaments of a Ugandan president
Uganda is at the brink of the 2016 election season but the general naivety about the duties and challenges of a president is certain....
The best ways to fight extreme poverty
In 1950, people in South Korea and Pakistan earned roughly the same amount of money annually. Today, the two countries are scarcely comparable. South Korean’s per capita income has grown 23-fold since then, while Pakistan has experienced only a three-fold increase....
Should government create more constituencies?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter