By Kiyimba Bruno
President Yoweri Museveni has reiterated his call to all people in the country to abandon subsistence agriculture in favor of modern commercial farming for both food and financial security. He also advised them to stop the culture of land fragmentation through property inheritance a practice that fuels poverty.
President Museveni made the remarks yesterday during his tour at Bamwe Agro Technologies Company, an Apple growing project located in Buyanja sub-county, Rubabo County, Rukungiri district. The company has apples nursery bed on an acre of land, with seedlings ready for sale to farmers, a special refrigerated room for seed germination and an orchard of 7,552 apple trees on a 40 acre of land that were planted in 2014. The project is recorded as the biggest in the country and has benefited about 145, 000 farmers in the region.
“Bamwe Technologies initiative on apples growing has helped in the struggle to re-orient the people in the region on how to use small pieces of land in order to get high returns from modern commercial agricultural practices,” he said.
Mr. Museveni observed that there was negligence of the past political and spiritual leaders on the issue of land use and property inheritance, which caused people to adopt wrong culture that finally resulted into land fragmentation.
“In 1986, the government came in to create structures to use fragmented pieces of land profitably and campaigned to stop further land fragmentation. People used not to concentrate on crucial areas of development but instead went on the periphery,” he said.
President Museveni added that there was need to have a policy to sensitize the masses on how to utilize a four acre piece of land pointing out that one can make money from extensive agriculture only on a huge chunk of land and those with small land holding can go for intensive agriculture concentrating on high yielding crops like coffee, fruits, food crops like matoke, pasture for zero grazing of dairy cattle as well as poultry and piggery at the backyard.
“If you can combine all these package on a four acre piece of land, a family can earn Ug. Shs.100 million in a year. In Kigezi, to grow apples is to reinforce governments’ campaign on the use of small pieces of land to make good returns,” he added.
The President further urged the people of Rukungiri district to be more focused and visionary in terms of Operation Wealth Creation at household level with emphasize on enterprise selection and to stop working for the stomach only.
Mr. Museveni recommended that apple growing should be extended to other areas beyond Kigezi sub-region where the climate is conducive like in Bundibugyo and Bugisu among others.
The Chief Executive Officer of Bamwe Technologies Mr. Reuben Mwesigye said that 320 apple trees, if well looked after in ten years, can make returns of 24,000,000/= annually. Bamwe Technologies is also supported by AVSI an Italian non-profit making government agency in terms of training on apples growing.
Present at the function was the Minister of State for Security Brigadier General Henry Tumukunde, Rubabo county MP Hon. Paula Turyahikayo, AVSI country RepresenTAtive Mr. Samuel Otim Rizzo, among others.