As part of the economic recovery and structural adjustment programmes, Uganda embarked on an agricultural transformation programme that aimed at modernising agriculture with emphasis on liberalising agriculture markets, re-ducing trade barriers and promoting traditional and non-traditional exports. This transformation is expected to improve rural food supplies, incomes, increase factor efficiency and propel national development, since the agricul-ture sector has a “comparative advantage” by employing 70%-80% of the population. Most food consumed in Uganda is produced by the local subsistence agriculture system, and contributes the most revenue earnings. Based on the rationale of the trade for development approach, the transformation result is expected to be a modern agricultural system where farm productivity is high due to the employment of modern agriculture technologies, and incomes and employment levels both rural and urban improve. These expectations have been pursued through the state-driven agriculture modernisation strategy; the first one was the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA 2000-2009) followed by the new revised agriculture Development Strategy and Investment Plan 2010-2015 (MAAIF, 2010) with interconnected programmes of (a) Enhancing Production and Productivity (b) Improving Access to Markets and Value Addition; (c) Creating an Enabling Environment, and (d) Institutional Strengthening in the Sector. However, the shift within the agricultural system, from subsistence to en-trepreneurial capitalist agricultural production has had adverse effects on food availability and the capacity of the rural economy to progress. The increase in non-traditional exports of which the majority are food crops has resulted in low food supply in the local markets pushing food prices high and gradually increasing the costs of living. Though export and value-adding promotion has allowed for increased export revenue, the redistributive mechanisms of the market system within the trade for development approach are ineffective and inefficient, the economic improvement being visible to only a small population of political and financial elites. The changes in the agricultural system have forced small farmers to participate in the market, which has had the effect of diminishing their capacity to produce sufficient food. This is the opposite of the conventional explanation of modernisation of agriculture as the right strategy for “food and income security” as stated by the DSIP. The market failure signifies a structural and systematic failure of the ‘trade for development’ paradigm which is an integral part of the whole modernisation process.

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Spoor, Max
Rural Livelihoods and Global Change (RLGC)
International Institute of Social Studies

Asiimwe, Sean Patrick. (2011, December 15). Peasantry Struggles and Agriculture Modernisation in Uganda: The failed attempt at agriculture transformation for development. Rural Livelihoods and Global Change (RLGC). Retrieved from