President Yoweri Museveni has advised farmers not to grow low-value crops such as maize and sugarcane if they have small pieces of land. "If you have only two acres of land on which to practise your farming, do not grow maize," he said during the official opening of the recent farmers' show in Jinja. The show ran on July 11-18.
"Even if you did everything right including using fertilisers, the maximum you can get from an acre is sh1m," he said. And then of the sh1m got from an acre, at least sh600,000 goes back there as production costs. It means that a farmer makes only sh400,000 as profit from an average five months of work. It is even worse for sugarcane farmers. An acre of sugarcane earns a farmer sh880,000 on average, before production costs are removed. And yet, to mature, sugarcane takes at least 18months. "During this period if somebody who planted tomatoes on the same acre of land has had three harvests, with each fetching around sh7m on a moderate scale," said Moses Magumba, a farmer from Mayuge.
Museveni advised the many people of Busoga growing sugarcane and maize on two acres of land to stop it. "You need to grow maize or sugarcane on over 10 acres of land to make any good money," Museveni told the show-goers.
Using the example of his farm, he said there would be no harm for him to grow maize, since he had a big piece of land. The average household acreage in Busoga region is 2.5 acres and this includes land occupied by the house. "Leave commercial maize production to the larger farmers," he said.
The President advised farmers to grow high value crops like fruit trees, vegetables like tomatoes and cabbages or keep livestock for example chicken.
If, for example, a farmer planted an acre of tomatoes, he would start harvesting it in four months. By the sixth month, he has already earned at least sh6m if the farm did not produce well. "Some farmers earn as much as sh20m from an acre of tomatoes," observes Abbey Kazibwe from Nsanja Agro-chemicals, who also grows tomatoes and other vegetables.
If one planted oranges or mangoes for example, an acre takes around 300-400 plants. According to Lawrence Alisiku, when they start fruiting after three to four years, a farmer can earn at least sh6m from the acre every year. "It all depends on how you look after them," Alisiku says.
He explains that there are continued harvests from the same trees for several years. "At the same time, you can also intercrop the orchard with other crops like beans," he says.