Supporting Smallholder Farmers against Big Agriculture
By Jocelyn Songco
On the website of Steenburg’s, an online British grocer that specializes in supplying customers with organic herbs and spices, a 25-gram jar of Birds Eye chili from Uganda currently costs £2.60. The page notes that the small, fiery, red chili “should be used with caution, packing a punch at around 100,000 Scoville Heat Units.”
The presence of this Ugandan chili, or other Ugandan products such as groundnuts and okra, on the shelves of British markets, is a reflection of the power that exports to Europe offer Uganda’s agricultural sector. But it also raises a question: How can smallholder farmers benefit from these new opportunities?
Food and Agriculture Organization figures from 2012 estimated that Uganda had over 3.6 million small farms averaging less than 2.5 acres in size. Agriculture is also the backbone of Uganda’s economy, employing 70 percent of the population, and contributing half of Uganda’s export earnings as well as a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.
Since most Ugandans live in rural areas, raising agriculture incomes is critical to reducing poverty, boosting prosperity and creating jobs, especially for women and youth.
Photo courtesy of Rod Waddington.