Opinion
Address soil infertility concernsPublish 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 Origins of War
The 59 skeletons were found in 1964, lying together in a gravesite beside the Nile near what is now the Egyptian-Sudanese border. They died between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago, and some of them seemed to have died in battle....
Vision 2040 is a reality for Uganda
Vision 2040 is a reality for Uganda's strategic plans By John Vianney Ahumuza Uganda has adopted a series of national development programmes aimed at transforming the economy. Previous plans have included the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP's) and the Ten Point Programmes that included Pla...
Make voting compulsory
Uganda is going to the presidential and parliamentary polls in 2016 to exercise their democratic duty in choosing their leaders....
Delay of Capitation grant release very risky
Due to the problems Universal Primary Education (UPE) is facing, some critics would suggest scrapping it since its implementation has become more tedious and expensive than planned. Under the UPE programme, the Government abolished all tuition fees and took on this role through the Government Capi...
MH17 plane crash: Who did it? What next?
Maybe the crew who launched the missile that brought down Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on Thursday afternoon were trained professionals, but it seems unlikely....
Over liberalization: What about the capital markets?
Various individuals, private businessmen and even business associations have raised concerns about the high interest rates charged by commercial banks....
Should government review powers of kings?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter