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Groups Helped Female Farmers in Northern Uganda Increase Tractor Usage-Study

The study, published on Tuesday, found that when women were organized in village groups and Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations-Saccos, they overcame some of the limitations that were stopping them from using tractors in their farming, including the issue of small acreages.
Female farmers found using tractors less stressful

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Smallholder female farmers were able to improve their usage of tractor services in Northern Uganda when they were organized in groups, a study has shown.

The study, published on Tuesday, found that when women were organized in village groups and Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations- Saccos, they overcame some of the limitations that were stopping them from using tractors in their farming, including the issue of small acreages. Being in groups meant the land available to enable the hiring of tractors was increased.

This saw female farmers who used tractors increase from 25 per cent to 40 per cent, thanks to village associations and Saccos.

Irene Among, the gender expert and researcher, said they found that by organizing in groups and Saccos, the women increased the acreage that needed tilling using tractors and lowering the cost of usage.

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The study titled Use of tractor services by smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda: the gender perspective was done to assess the programme by Northern Uganda Transforming the Economy (NU-TEC MD), a project funded by the UKaid and Palladium Group intended to assist smallholder farmers to mechanize their farming. It covered districts of Gulu, Lamwo, Nwoya and Omoro.

The researchers found that mechanization had a direct positive impact on reducing women’s farming workload and time poverty, improving health and increasing farm production. It has contributed to increases in household incomes. These are important aspects of women’s economic empowerment.

Patience Kikoni, the technical advisor for NU-TEC MD, said the results called for the increase in the supply of tractor services because as more groups are formed, demand is outstripping supply.

The study found that tractor service providers considered women smallholder farmers as reliable clients because they either paid on time or in advance compared to their male counterparts.

For the farmers who joined groups and hired tractors saw the cost of tilling landfall. The study says the average cost for ploughing an acre reduced an average of 80,000 Shillings compared to 300,000 Shillings when a farmer chose to use manual labour.

“Women also reported that hiring tractors was less stressful than hiring manual labour because, with manual labour, they would also have to cook for the workers, and buy them beer in addition to the cash payment,” the research found.

The study found no unique challenges for women farmers from men’s. Both found challenges with land opening where the uprooting tree stumps is challenging and requires heavy machines like bulldozers. These are expensive to hire.

Also, even when the costs were low, many farmers found difficulty in raising the money. Countrywide, mechanization remains dismally low at 2 per cent. The government says adoption of mechanization will improve agriculture production.

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