Land fragmentation is a popular phenomenon in Uganda that has resulted in food insecurity and reduced income. In Africa, land tenure can be obtained through a variety of means. These include buying, gift, leasing, and inheritance through ancestral tenure. The latter is the most integral cause of land fragmentation in Uganda. Simply put, land fragmentation can be described as the subdivision of a large parcel of land into smaller and separate farm plots. In Uganda, culture denotes that the children inherit land from their parents. This cultural practice has thus seen to it that large parcels of land are divided into smaller uneconomic units.
In Uganda’s Kyenjojo district, for example, it is a tradition for families to partition their farms then divide the smaller farm parcels among themselves. While this worked in the past, accelerated population growth has resulted in further farm fragmentation. Kyenjojo’s district production department estimates that due to land fragmentation the available land for crop production has reduced from 7 acres to 1.5 acres per family in a span of ten years. Land fragmentation has thus contributed to the current recurrent famine that is indicative of food insecurity and reduced income from crop production.
Food insecurity, reduced income, and land fragmentation
Continuous reduction in farm size has impacted negatively on the efficiency of crop production in Uganda. The country is already suffering from climatic changes such as reduced rainfall that has reduced crop production. Farm fragmentation is thus compounding this problem. In Kyenjojo farmers have resorted to reducing the number of crops planted due to small economic units. This situation is reflected in other parts of the country such as Kabale district where farmers can only be able to plant enough for their families. Arguably, in many cases, even the crop production output is not enough to sustain the family given the high population growth. This has in itself led to food insecurity as families have to consider purchasing to compensate their meager production. Food insecurity has further been aggravated by the lack of land improvements attributable to land fragmentation. In Kabale district, for example, there have been reported cases of farmers undermining land improvement efforts by their neighbors’ by undermining efforts of enhancing soil fertility.
Farm fragmentation in Uganda has also negated the viability of commercial farming. Some crops such as sugarcane cannot be viably produced in small tracts of land. Farmers only plant crops that require small plots of land such as millet or maize. This has thus reduced the income received from commercial agriculture. Small-scale farmers in Uganda were also used to selling their excessive staple outputs. This has also been reduced or stopped as the small uneconomic units cannot provide enough to cater for family sustenance and for sale. Farm fragmentation also impacts on the number of livestock. Farms are keeping less livestock due to limited grazing land.