Agriculture, Agri-business and Agro-forestry.
It is estimated that more than 40% of Africans do not have the capacity or ability to obtain food on daily basis.
Agricultural inputs such as conventional or even organic based fertilizers and improved seeds are cost prohibitive to most, small scale rural farmers in most if not all of sub-Saharan Africa.
The cost of a bag of conventional fertilizers, at four to six times more than the world market price, most peasant farmers such as those in rural West Nile sub-region, cannot afford to buy such fertilizers, which often leads to poor crop yields, if there are not alternatives to improve productivity, given all other factors such as weather conditions are right, for the growing season.
HIV/AIDS on the other hand kills more than 6,000 and infects another 8,000 or so people in Africa daily, according to earlier figures. This alone has tremendous negative impact on Agricultural, Agri-business activities and Agro-forestry production and sustainability in the long term, as a viable economic mainstay.
The pandemic along with poor soils, due mainly to land degradation, environmental destruction and stress, impact of climate change, rapid population growth, expansion and pressures, scarcity of arable land, increase in land disputes and fights, dwindling water resources and increasing loss of habitats have combined to cause around 23% decrease in food production, sufficiency and security, per capita in Africa.
Continuing deforestation and destruction of vegetation cover in general, through use of poor agricultural practices, such as slush and burn, over grazing and excessive and repetitive tilling of exhausted lands have significantly contributed to extensive environmental destruction with dire effects.
Harvesting of old growth trees for charcoal burning or for firewood, furniture making and housing construction, has become highly unsustainable in most rural communities across many sub-regions throughout Uganda, including the West Nile sub-region.
In the West Nile sub-region of north western Uganda, forest and general vegetation cover destruction, mainly for fuel wood used in tobacco curing and commercial charcoal burning, has left the countryside deeply depleted, with the local natural environment substantially destroyed.
The result is a profound environmental degradation, causing local streams, wetlands and rivers to silt. A number of these water reservoirs and channels are on the verge of drying up altogether.
Local ecosystems of some of the most sensitive areas such as major watersheds and river basins have all suffered serious environmental damages and some cases total destruction, needing urgent action to restore and reclaim such important ecosystems, vital to retaining the presence and purity of our natural water sources.
On the other hand, in Uganda’s rural communities, such as the West Nile sub-region, small peasant farmers do not often have adequate access to affordable motor vehicles, besides good feeder roads, for the purposes of transporting their farm produce to markets.
These small holder farmers cannot afford high costs of transportation, in the private sector especially, as such high costs have tendency to badly erode their profit margins as they are often beyond their reach.
Market connections are weak in some localities and sometimes are none existent. In addition, most local peasant farmers often lack access to financial resources, proper agricultural inputs, improved and better seeds, vital information on best agricultural practices, new and improved agricultural technologies, education and skills training and technical field support mechanisms and supervision, critical to improving and increasing agricultural production and also to reduce pests, insects and diseases.
As a result about 5% of rural households in Uganda continue to suffer from food insufficiency and insecurity, forcing them to depend on food aid, where possible.
Another disturbing factor is that, in Uganda 1.7 million children have been made orphans, as a direct result of deaths of adults caused by HIV/AIDS related cases. A lack of access to better healthcare and other social services safety nets, puts rural women at a particular disadvantage. This has increasingly affected the productivity levels of many women, as women are heavily involved with rural Agriculture, Agri-businesses and Agro-forestry activities.
Unfortunately HIV rates have been on the rise in the country, reaching almost 10% to date, despite the fact that Uganda was once a champion, leading a fight against this scourge, having previously achieved a reduction in infection rates, as low as 5% earlier on.