Illiteracy hinders agricultural growth in Uganda: report

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Illiteracy hinders agricultural growth in Uganda: report
Farmers in KIbaale District

Agriculture remains the backbone of Uganda’s economy, employing over 80 percent of the rural population and playing a crucial role in food security and exports.

However, a recent report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) has highlighted a significant challenge to the sector: illiteracy among farmers.

According to the UBOS Annual Agricultural Survey, a large portion of Uganda's agricultural workforce has minimal formal education.

The survey found that in 2018, only 23 percent of households that relied on agriculture for sustenance used improved seeds, and just 12% received advisory services in the preceding year.

This low adoption rate of modern agricultural practices and technologies is largely attributed to high levels of illiteracy among farmers.

"The impact of illiteracy on agricultural production is profound," UBOS spokesperson Didacus Okoth noted.

"Illiterate farmers often lack the knowledge and skills to implement advanced farming techniques, leading to lower yields and reduced efficiency," she added

For instance, only 2% of agricultural households utilized irrigation, a critical technology for improving crop productivity, especially in the face of climate variability.

This educational gap significantly affects the sector's performance, despite its market value being approximately $4.07 billion in 2024. Projections indicate that with the right interventions, this value could grow to $5.00 billion by 2029.

Efforts to address these challenges are underway. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UBOS have partnered through the AGRISurvey Programme to enhance agricultural statistics, providing reliable data to inform policy decisions and promote modernization.

Furthermore, initiatives like the Agricultural Sector Strategic Plan (ASSP) and the National Development Plan (NDP) III underscore the importance of improving agricultural practices and farmer education to boost productivity.

"The key to unlocking Uganda’s agricultural potential lies in education and access to modern agricultural techniques," said Minister of Agriculture, Frank Tumwebaze.

"By addressing the literacy challenges faced by our farmers, we can significantly enhance productivity and achieve sustainable growth in the sector." he added

While agriculture is a vital part of Uganda's economy, the sector's potential is hindered by high levels of illiteracy among farmers.

Addressing this issue through targeted education and the dissemination of modern farming techniques is crucial for the country's agricultural advancement and economic prosperity.

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