Agriculture has long been the mainstay of Uganda’s populace providing livelihoods to over 80% both directly and indirectly. Over the last 2-3 years, agriculture investment and operations has moved to urban employed who are looking at it as an alternate investment. Due to the education system however there is no exposure to farming practices, knowledge and experience.
In comes the popular one day and half day agro-training workshops, seminars and agro-tours to existing farms as part of knowledge sharing, experience and a way of inspiring the “new age” farmers. While this is a good idea proving an accelerated experience, eduction and exposure. The new cash cow is holding training sessions and experience visits for new farmers, however this does not provide next steps for starting new enterprises or improving/scaling up existing ones.
While the commercialisation is difficult to control, there are a few tips that one can use to discern between what is useful and what is not outlined below:
- The training & experiential visits must be on a farm where the learnings can be seen in practice.
- The hosts and facilitators must have been in business for at least 3 seasons of production which provides great learnings.
- Ask questions about the investment and profitability numbers, remembering that this is just a metric for what is possible and your own experience may be different – you may perform better or worse
- Carry out your own research to validate what the benefits from the training session are
- Ask questions of the organisers and hosts to get a feel of how well they know the subject matter
- The best experiences are focused on a single crop/livestock area
The best experiences to date for me have been the Bongole Farm Passion Fruit visit and Aqua Farm fish learning visit (blog post coming in a week or so as I digest the information).
Remember this is an investment of money and time on your part, so use it wisely.