Kampala — Over the past 20 years, market opportunities for smallholder farmers have changed considerably due to the dissolution of government marketing boards, globalization and market reforms like liberalization.
In many cases, this left farmers with few technical or financial services and reduced links to traditional export markets. On the other hand increasing urbanization, rising consumer incomes in specific segments, demand for higher food standards; emergence of supermarkets and fast foods industry has provided new domestic market opportunities in the region.
Farmers have been called upon to adapt to the concept of entrepreneurship farming which according to stakeholders will help in increasing their household income and attainment of agricultural growth.
This was at a conference that was organised by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Pelum (PELUM) that saw a number of stakeholders and farmers gather for a dialogue on the relevance of promoting farmer entrepreneurship to the attainment of increased household incomes and attainment of agricultural growth.
They were called upon to move from small scale farming to innovative, adaptable and productive farming so as to produce up to 80 per cent for entrepreneurship purposes and improve on value addition through increased participation.
Anne Auru the woman MP Moyo district called upon farmers to form co-operatives so as to ensure availability of markets after production and also urged them to separate home farming from business farming.
She said: "Although the sector contributes significantly to food security, employment as well as to export income it has registered decline in growth which has greatly impacted on the wellbeing of the rural population which heavily depends on agriculture therefore adapting to entrepreneurial farming could benefit them."
However, since gaining access to markets often requires farmers to adopt new marketing skills and strategies. In essence, farmer entrepreneurial development is key with the emerging trends.
Deus Muhwezi the assistant commissioner agribusiness at the ministry of agriculture told farmers to look at farming as a business as one of the strategies or approaches of promoting the quest to commercialize agriculture.
"Many smallholder farmers have not yet been able to break the subsistence farming barrier, and still consider farming as a way of life with limited prospects of fostering their efforts to break the viscous poverty cycle." he said.
According development practitioners, farmer entrepreneurship development holds the key to sustainable growth and development of the agricultural sector. This therefore calls for strategies to promote agribusiness at the rural grass roots including skill development, access to agricultural information, inputs, finance, markets and other support services that can spur productivity and marketing.
While agricultural productivity in Africa has not yet shown the same leap forward as in other regions, things are starting to change. Governments are starting to take agriculture more seriously.
More Africans are currently employed in agriculture than in any other sector, and this is where Africa's transformation will likely be seen. In per capita terms, contrary to common stereotypes, Africa is richer in water resources than either Asia or the Middle East.
Africa also boasts most of the world's untapped arable land. Only an estimated 14 per cent of potentially available farmland is put to use in Africa. Of all the available, untapped, arable land globally, a massive 60 per cent is to be found in Sub-Saharan Africa. With increased investment, and greater policy prioritization, African agriculture could realize its potential, transforming growth opportunities in the region.