Monday, May 24, 2010

Kabale - Agriculture

On our way to the Lake Bunyoni Resort we stopped at a town near Kabale. We hiked over to an edge with a beautiful outlook on the agriculture-based town. Our Ugandan colleague, James, explained to us what agriculture looks like in Uganda. The terrain in this region is very steep. In order to prevent erosion, the individual plots are very small and are surrounded by much larger bushes. The bushes keep the soil in place and prevent mudslides. Plants we saw included; Cabbage in the lowlands, sugar cane, maize, and sorghum. I learned that sorghum is used for flower and alchol, and is much like millet, which is used to make simsim. James explained that most of the crops grown here are for consumption. However, they will sell the food that is left over. How does growing crops mainly for personal consumption affect sustainable development? Would it be possible for these families to sell more of their crops and still provide for their families?

This district has no electricity or running water. This means that each time a family would like to use water, they need to walk down to the bottom of the hills to the spring or well and fill up containers. They then need to carry the water back up the hill. They use rain water to water the plants instead of manually watering them. How does lack of electricity and running water affect the production of the farms? If the village got eletricity and running water, causing the production rates to increase, I would think the farmers would need more land which did not appear available in the immediate area, what would be a realistic move for these farmers in regards to making a profit and sustainable development?

The region has a primary school, church, and a medical facility. While the medical facility is very nice, it serves a very large area. Besides the main road, however, there are no roads with in the farm areas, which makes it very hard for the people to travel to the hospitals. James also said the that region is made up of 99.99% Christians.


  1. I think that the mere presence of running water and electricity would not in itself increase any sort of production. I also think that with the current system in place, production itself is not the problem.
    First, in order to utilize the running water or the electricity in the region, there needs to be some sort of industrialization such as irrigation systems, storing facilities for the crops, or other facilities that package or transform the crops for export to other countries or to main markets within the country. However, these types of facilities would only be possible to build with investment and a proper infrastructure in order to get the raw materials and skilled labor to build the plant, not to mention the amount of knowledge needed to run the plant.
    I do not think that production is necessarily the problem because I believe that even if these farmers were to produce extra, the amount of effort it would take to sell this extra would be astronomical. It is very difficult for these farmers to get to a market to sell these products anywhere other than on the streets. It is even more difficult to export these products.
    As we very clearly saw from firsthand experience, the ride to this region of the country is not a smooth one. This raises the costs of the goods sold and makes it difficult to profit off of any excess. It seems, therefore, that in order to fully tap into the agricultural industry, the country needs industrialization. When 90% of the economy in a given country is agriculture, subsistence farming is merely not good enough for sustainable development, and in order to move to commercial farming, industrialization is a must.
    Do you think industrialization would have an impact on these farmers? How should the government act, if at all, in order to promote this industrialization?

  2. I thought it was really interesting how the land plots are divided up by families. The United States and other Western countries have shown that larger farms have more production and are more profitable. Why do Ugandans continue to divide up their land then? Land is a symbol of status;owning it is a sense of pride, much like our freedom in the United States. However, Ugandans seem to all want a bit of land instead of sharing or trying to expand and make larger farms. Moving away from consumption to consumer production would be best for all. More profits would be made for all Ugandan farmers if the farms were bigger, more crops could be grown, people would have more free time, could send their kids to school, and would end up making more money. One of the MUBS students told me that families with little money should recognize that they can't afford big families, but most Ugandans don't care if the government will have to support them as long as they can keep their culture. Farmers with more children have to divide up their land equally for each child which is difficult because the farms become smaller and it's harder to divide up food for the community.

  3. One thing that struck me about the farms that we passed on our way to Kabale was the general lack of advanced farming tools. I think that even use of a till that is pulled by an animal would be of more use in a farming society than would the hoes and other ancient-seeming farming tools being used throughout the communities that we passed. I think that this simple upgrade in tools would increase production of crops because the Ugandans in the area would be able to tend to more land than they can when working the land by hand. I feel that an upgrade in tools would be necessary before an upgrade in utilities such as electricity and water, as well as before an upgrade in irrigation systems. This change would most likely be the easiest to make within the area with the purpose of increasing production of goods. However, then one would run into the problem that Alex mentioned. How will an excess in product be transported to other areas of the country, or even other countries, if it can not be transported easily due to a lack in the road infrastructure within the area?

  4. This location was definitely a beautiful hot spot! Luckily for us, James knows of these areas so we don’t have to stay strictly with the tourist-y areas. This location will be one of the ones I remember from this trip because it seemed so surreal. One of the first things that I noticed was that the medical facility, like stated above, has to serve a very large area. I was happy to see that the people of this area had access to a health care facility, but the lack of roads may make a simple trip to the doctor a whole entire day trip. But besides that I was just glad to see that the locals had SOME form of access- And compared to the clinics we saw along the way, from a distance, the facility seemed to be of good quality and since its the only one in the area, this is a very good trait!

  5. I was very impressed with the beauty of this area. I appreciated the commentary from James durng this part of our journey, and it was very helpful in thinking about the village as a business. The sense of community must be strong as the members depend on one another to live fulfilling lives. They are helpful to the other people, and they have a sense of the common good. I look forward to seeing if this continues as we visit more developed areas of the country.