Re: President Museveni’s 4-acre model in poverty eradication works but…..

Your Excellency, I bring to you warm greetings from residents of Rwakanyonyi village in Nyakabirizi Division in Bushenyi/Ishaka Municipality. I also want to express my admiration for your approach and response towards this global pandemic-COVID-19. Without the guidelines and directives, you issued out, the impacts of this pandemic would have been more devastating. We are sure that just like the other wars we have won as a country, we shall overcome this pandemic because there are all indicators.

But as we are struggling with this global pandemic, Ugandans we still have a war of eradicating poverty which has been with us for a long time. I know that for all these months we have spent under the lockdown, you are also not comfortable because by this time you would have covered many parts of the country mobilizing the communities against poverty to increase their household incomes like what you had done before.

I am sure you don’t dream this pandemic coming to the end so that you resume immediately your upcountry anti-poverty campaigns.

Your Excellency, being a journalist, I have always listened to your 4acre model messages in eradicating poverty.

You have rallied every household to do this and increase its income but it is still a challenge to many people/ households because of different reasons especially land.

I may be among the few people who are trying to see whether this 4acre model is the best one.

Mr. President, I want to share my experience with you in this simple write-up.

Being a journalist, when you started spreading this message of 4acres model I was among the first recipients. I also helped you to disseminate it through the different media houses I work for.

Later after having visited several model farms which we always rushed to- to give you media coverage, your Excellency, I realized I should also be a beneficiary of your ‘gospel’ but I didn’t have land and so I tried much and saved some money which I used to purchase some land so that I can establish the 4acre model (which I have done.)

I also saved and borrowed some money to enable me to set up the enterprises you always encouraged households to take on and these include; coffee, banana plantation, piggery unit, orchard, fish ponds, apiary, rabbits, goats and the small garden of ekibingo for my three local cows in my farm. At the beginning, I had also started with poultry but I later closed it because I could not manage the daily spending. But my poultry house still stands though empty!! Everything in agriculture now needs to be fed/food supplemented daily even bees!!

Your Excellency, I have already realized that the above enterprises are the way to go in making Prosperity a reality in rural communities in that; as this season is ending; the other season is starting and so one remains in the chain of some income throughout the year.

However, you may be wondering why many people have not yet picked your 4acre message despite you making it a ‘song.’ It’s because of so many reasons whereby some will tell you lack of land, lack of capital……. But your Excellency, what is holding many other people is the mindset, lack of patience, and the fear to begin.

They fear the risks involved in these enterprises and the huge capital one has to fore-go yet some of these enterprises will take years to realize the benefits or even fail to realize any because with agriculture you can’t be 100% sure. Some don’t want to begin small because they will be laughed at. Some want to join farming at the modern level/stage without going through the infancy stages. Others want to join agriculture looking at profits before they even set up one enterprise.

I get surprised to see some people visiting my farm and the only thing a person is asking is; like how much have you got from pigs, goats? Yes it is very okay to ask this but he/she forgets that leave alone the money issue, these pigs and goats have helped me with manure to establish coffee plantation and the banana plantation!

How I started it

I started small, started everything locally, and in this way, I don’t count the first stock. I take the 1st stock as things which have helped me to learn what it takes to do farming or to join agriculture. But at this stage where I am, if I had the capacity to expand and modernize I would take off in farming but since I don’t have what it takes I will remain small and in the local set up but relevant to the communities. I will aim at modernizing in the future depending on the circumstances.

At this stage of your 4acre model, I am not crying for ‘seed capital’ to start but I am only yearning for what can help me to improve/expand and sustain what I have established and also help the neighbors to start locally. With the enterprises I have been able to put in place, I shouldn’t be leaving home to struggle outside but I can’t stay home because all these enterprises need to be supported/well maintained before they can begin to sustain themselves and also give me something (profit.)

Your Excellency, like my coffee plantation now, if I had an irrigation system, my coffee wouldn’t be now suffering in this dry season which has set in. Instead, I would be irrigating so that it can be able to double production. With coffee, I have already realized that under good care/management (with full application of fertilizers, irrigation…), one can harvest more than two seasons in a year. Pests and diseases are common in coffee and one needs modern spray pumps to fight the diseases. If I had money, I would also buy mulches and mulch it (coffee.) Remember this one also requires a wetland to get mulches and transport!! However, being an environmentalist I have foregone part of my small land so that the wetland which had been degraded can regenerate and in the few years to come I get mulches. I have also tried to convince some of my neighbors to let wetlands be reinstated well knowing their (wetlands) contribution to agriculture/farming.

Your Excellency, with the increasing effects of climate change, agriculture remains one of the most affected sectors with farmers suffering huge losses.

In some communities, there are some people who have started on a large scale (and these are the people you visit) and indeed they are model farmers. These are the people you always encourage us to emulate. But your Excellency it is difficult for a local person to think of ‘copying’ from these model farms. Even if you sponsor groups to go there (to the model farms) to learn, they see huge investments which makes them fear more.

But I am happy because in my village I have started locally though my dream is to modernize and expand. At least, everybody who visits and sees my local way of doing things, you see him/her leaving with the will and vowing to begin something.

Your Excellency, allow me to end by inviting you to visit my simple farm so that I can share more with you on the local and simple approaches we can employ to get more people especially the youth on board and prosper under your 4acre model.
May God continue blessing you.

Thank you
Chris Mugasha
A journalist in Bushenyi District
0701-086722, 0392-840814

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