Land fragmentation is threatening food security in the western district of Kyenjojo. Records from the district production department show that each home has an average of 1.5 acres to grow food crops, compared to seven acres 10 years ago.
Traditionally, communities in Kyenjojo partition their land into small plots that are shared amongst family members. As a result, the small pieces of land cannot support commercial farming that usually requires huge chunks of land.
Some farmers have resorted to growing lesser quantities of food on the available pieces of land, while others are spending too much money on renting huge chunks of land.
Patrick Muhenda, a resident of Kagorogoro village in Bugaki sub-county, said his father had six acres of land. When his father died, he said, the land was divided into small portions and shared amongst children and relatives.
Muhenda said his father used to harvest more than 100 bags of maize from his garden. But since the land has been split, he said, such a yield is impossible now.
Muhenda said he is now forced to buy food. Ben Makune, another farmer in Bugaki, has 2.5 acres of land, which he divided amongst his relatives. Makune said he then paid Shs 400,000 to rent additional land to grow maize whose yields are small because of price fluctuations, pests and diseases, unpredictable weather and lack of market for his produce.
Amon Tusiime, the chairperson of the Kyenjojo district farmers association, said families can’t be food-secure through utilizing half or a quarter of an acre of land. He urged farmers to take up poultry, zero grazing, beekeeping and apple growing to earn money from their small pieces of land.
Tusiime wants the district to pass by-laws on land usage, which will compel residents to allocate a portion of their land to food growing. He said most homes cannot grow food to give them two meals a day.
According to George Kasigazi, the acting Kyenjojo district production officer, families are being advised to practice agricultural zoning since they cannot use their land for commercial and intensive agriculture.