A Non-Governmental Organisation, known as African Women’s Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems has highlighted the lack of rights and resources as some of the hindering factors faced by peasant and pastoralist women in some parts of Africa.
The organisation has therefore stressed that the right actions are urgently needed to change their circumstances.
Smallholder farmers refer to farmers who own small-based plots on which they grow, majorly subsistence crops, relying almost entirely on family labour.
These small-scale farmers, therefore, depend on the efficient utilisation of the basic production resources available to them.
In a press release made available to gourmetguide234.com, the initiative explained that studies have shown that women make up 60-80% of these smallholder farmers in Africa, accounting for 73% of those economically active in agriculture, and produce over 80% of the food crops.
However, in Uganda and Africa as a whole, women smallholder farmers in rural areas face severe constraints, particularly regarding access to lands.
In Uganda particularly, many women small-scale farmers are said to be on the verge of losing their lands due to lack of access, control and ownership of land.
The organisation cited the example of a 57-year-old small-scale farmer in Bubanzi, Mityana district, known as Nagita Rose, who was once a prominent farmer in Bubanzi, whose produce was enough to feed the community, but who is now at the brink of losing the land that feeds her family.
Reports say she had hoped that the land she farmed on would be her children’s inheritance, but unfortunately, the odds seem to have turned against her, especially after her husband got involved in a motorcycle accident in early 2021, which left him bedridden and unable to contribute to the farming activities, and protect their land.
Nagitta’s farm, a 5-acre with a swamp at the end, has attracted many people who want to reclaim the swamp, leading to different claims of ownership over the land.
Her words “It was my husband’s birthright given to him by his father.” Nagitta shared.
However, with no title deed and formal proof of ownership, Nagitta is at a loss to defend her land from encroachers.
These land wrangles have threatened the food security that her family once enjoyed. Her diminished earnings are spent on ensuring that their children are fed and are schooling, as well as paying for her husband’s medical bills. With all these, there’s no money to begin registration processes to get their title deed.
However, with the recent training and sensitisation programmes organised by the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF), Uganda on responsible governance of investments and land rights, Nagitta has gained useful knowledge which she hopes will help her process her title deed.
Nagitta reportedly took part in other training organised by ESAFF like the Public Expenditure Tracking Survey and Ecological Organic Agriculture training.
She however opined that she hopes that with the knowledge she has gained, one day in the not distant future, these land wrangles will end.
Nagitta’s story is only one of the many land conflicts small-scale farmers, especially women, are facing in Uganda.
Land conflicts threaten agriculture production and food security in the country. The disputes, some of which turn bloody and even claim lives, leave many displaced with no land for cultivation. Nagitta’s only wish is that the gap between small-scale farmers and the government is narrowed so that the government can help farmers ease the land registration process and also fast-track land wrangle issues in court.
The African Women’s Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems is therefore calling on local authorities, the Government, and other stakeholders to recognize the bottlenecks surrounding the issues of land ownership for women and thus intervene urgently and swiftly as well as help in securing a lasting solution to the challenge.
The organisation has equally stressed the need for Uganda to have a responsive legal regime to help enhance land rights and curb some difficulties experienced in land management.