Increased Farmer Access to Quality Inputs Boosts Productivity in Serere District
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ugandan economy, with a total contribution to GDP of 24.9%, 47% to exports and 73% to total employment(*1). However, productivity still remains a challenge in Eastern Uganda, as evidenced by the fact that 100,000 peasant farmers in Serere District still have challenges accessing quality seeds and other materials. This has hampered their ability to produce quality produce that could be marketable with a high income potential.
According to the Church of Uganda Teso Dioceses Development Offices (COU-TEDDO) project baseline study in 2017 for Civic Engagement Alliance, most farmers replant seeds from previous harvests and often access poor quality seeds from input dealers during weekly markets.
Since 2017, COU-TEDDO, as a member of the Civic Engagement Alliance in Uganda, has implemented interventions aimed at promoting improved quality and access to food in Labor, Pingire and Bugondo sub counties in Serere district.
Through inclusive advocacy initiatives, farmers have been linked to relevant local government departments. The aim of this is facilitating dialogue and enactment of local policies and legislations that improve the quality of seeds in the markets, which would positively impact farmers’ productivity.
Over the last four years, 20 farmer groups have been established and strengthened in the three targeted sub counties. The groups have benefited from training in advocacy through the Alliance ¨Change the Game¨ approach. This has built the farmers’ capacity to collectively use dialogue platforms to present issues affecting farmers and demand for relevant action by the local government leadership.
Through 10 quarterly dialogue meetings during 2018 and 2019 with leaders from sub counties and the district, and input dealers, the farmer groups have been able to highlight challenges including:
- Fake seed dealers in markets
- Lack of knowledge of how and where to access quality seeds, and;
- Limited knowledge of and access to avenues for reporting cases of fraudulent input dealers at sub county and district levels.
As a result of increased knowledge of challenges facing farmers’ productivity, sub county councilors were able to pass a bye-law and policy banning the sale of seed and agro-chemicals in open weekly markets. The helped to limit the distribution of unverified inputs to farmers by unscrupulous traders, and encourage the purchase of high quality farming inputs to boost farmer productivity.
District technical departments have also boosted efforts to register and train input dealers in quality assurance.
COU-TEDDO has also built farmers’ capacity in the identification of quality farming inputs, good planting practices, harvest and post-harvest handling methods, which has facilitated improved quality of produce. They have also learnt the importance of bulking of produce, which has facilitated an increase in their bargaining capacity with dealers from input acquisition to access to finance.
*(1) UBOS 2018