How poor attitude is killing agriculture
One of the main problems facing agriculture today is the poor attitude that most people have towards farming.
When the best performing students in national examinations are interviewed by the media and asked what they want to be they always say they want to be surgeons, engineers, and lawyers. No one has ever said that he or she wants to be a farmer.
Agriculture is not the prioritised subject in nearly all schools and a school garden is not a major requirement for a school to be granted a licence. The few schools that still keep a school garden hardly have sufficient tools for the children to use and rarely do they even have a well-trained agriculture teacher.
The best brains are thus driven to seek “a comfortable life” in cities where many of them find themselves among the urban poor and living in unhealthy crowded conditions.
The farmer is generally looked down upon as a person to be given government support all the time — free seeds, cheap small loans such as Emyoga, Bonnabagaggawale, and now the promised Parish Model.
The farmer is known to be poorly educated and living in a small, poorly constructed house with no piped water. One who has very little understanding, if any, of the land tenure system and is likely to be evicted any day.
The commercial banks do not trust him and cannot lend him money. He has no knowledge about the weather patterns of the area where he lives and is not sure when to plant and which seed varieties to plant to achieve high yields.
Yet, to be honest, it is on the sweat of the farmer that our economy is heavily dependent.
But we know that there are also many farmers out there in the rural areas enjoying similar social amenities as the lawyers and engineers living in cities. They have gone into large scale farming and are using heavy machines like tractors.
Farming must be made more respectable by first of all prioritising its teaching in schools.
The roads in the rural areas must be better constructed to facilitate communication between farmers and urban markets.
Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist and a farmer