This paper draws on field data from farming households in Kabale and Kisoro districts of Uganda and early findings from monitoring the implementation of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA) and the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP) to investigate: (1) whether Uganda’s agricultural modernisation strategies constitute the right mechanism and target of transforming smallholder subsistence agriculture into highly productive commercial farming; and (2) whether the generation and promotion of modern farm inputs pursued is sufficient to increase household farm output and incomes, or whether there is need for more rigorous market/economic incentives.
Several key findings emanate from this study. First, the overall logic of agricultural modernisation as laid out in the PMA/DSIP (increase household farm output and income) still holds, but there are weaknesses within the implementation process, with most of the pillars that seek to address agricultural marketing problems not being visible on the ground. Overall, progress in generating and promoting knowledge on modern farm inputs (hybrid seed, fertiliser and pesticide) is good. However, smallholder farmers lag behind in the adoption of these inputs despite the high demand for them. The low adoption levels of these inputs coupled with low literacy levels, small land sizes, low asset endowments and low access to credit limit the capacity of smallholder subsistence farmers to produce surplus for the market.
Second, results on market participation show that smallholder farmers have significantly lower production volumes and lower market participation. Yet households that had higher total crop output also had considerable market surplus and reported greater market participation. These results point to the strong relationship between output level, market participation and exiting poverty, and indicate the role that access to productive assets, which improve a household’s capacity to produce marketable surplus, can play in poverty reduction. Chief among this paper’s recommendations is the need to mainstream input and output marketing issues within all intervention areas and the development of more differentiated strategies according to target groups.
This paper was produced with support from the Early Career Fellowship Programme.