Sustainable development in the making : assessing the changing role of agriculture in the transition from subsistence to commercial production. A case of Nakisunga Sub-County, Uganda
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Sustainable development has become a catch phrase in almost all global development agendas. With more than 60% of Africa’s active labour force earning a livelihood in the agricultural sector (World Bank 2011; UNEP 2007), progress in the agricultural sector is prioritized as key to attainment of sustainable development for different countries in Africa. This study considered how a state-authored plan to transform the majorly subsistence agriculture into commercial agriculture, was being implemented in five parishes of Nakisunga Sub-County in Mukono, district of Uganda. This largely qualitative study involved interviewing farmers, their leaders and coordinators of the state programme. The study generally established that the changing role of agriculture hinges around the state’s agricultural development plans being able to address contextual factors that challenge peasant farmers in the transition from subsistence agriculture to commercial production. The key contextual factors requiring attention include: dynamics of marketing amidst globalization; poverty, gender, cultural and land dynamics in production/marketing; preconditions regarding the use of participation as a management strategy; and finally the possibility of using a mix of traditional and scientific knowledge in the pursuit of sustainability. Such contextual issues would better be addressed using emancipatory farmer education taking place within an environment of fully functioning state institutions as watch dogs for accountability at all stages. The current decentralization system in Uganda’s local governance and the irrigation potential availed by rivers would further engrain agriculture as the indispensible key in unlocking sustainable development in Nakisunga or Africa in general. Finally, the study recommends further research into possibilities of using a mix of traditional and scientific knowledge as a way of improving subsistence agriculture to promote sustainable development for poor countries in Africa.
Master thesis in development management- University of Agder 2011