Press release : State House : March 6, 2012
President Yoweri Museveni has called for the re-evaluation of Uganda’s colonial policies on agriculture saying colonial ideas where designed for their own interests but must be revisited to know what is good for the country and what can be done away with.
The President was referring to the partitioning of Uganda’s crops into cash and food crops with regions such as West Nile gazetted for tobacco growing while others were for cotton and coffee.
“Farmers must make proper calculations of their incomes from enterprises to assess their incomes. Colonial agriculture must be assessed to know whether it is still relevant or not. They made maize a cash crop so it was not emphasized but it is now a major cash as well as food crop. The colonial idea of tobacco growing should have been assessed. What are they getting from tobacco,” he said.
The President was today speaking at the Zonal Conference on Poverty Alleviation and Enterprise selection for the Lango region districts of Aleptong, Amolatar, Apac, Dokolo, Kole, Lira, Otuke and Oyam at Entebbe State House. The conference organized by State House for each region in Uganda will run for two weeks. It is being attended by technical staff including production officers, NAADS coordinators, and members of parliament, ministers and technical people from stakeholder ministries. The conference aims at sensitizing farmers about selecting the right enterprises that can improve food security but also provide incomes to the families. The enterprises selected must have national, regional and international demand.
The President emphasized that leaders must help the people to make informed choices about the enterprises they select especially in regions where the land holding is five acres of land or less. This he says, will enable them invest in projects that promote food security as well as incomes for the homesteads.
The President said Non Governmental organizations that preach only food security without emphasing incomes only encourage people to produce for the stomach and not for empowerment.
“They talk about food security, if the stomach is full but I have no money how are you helping me? Are there only food needs or also none food needs. Modern life is not about food only, there are also money needs for the family,” he said.
The President also criticized the NGOs approach of `bottom-up’ when dealing with situations such as land fragmentation.
“The NGO approach is bottom-up but how about the head? If you have a situation where the bottom is doing most of the talking, it becomes a very serious situation. This approach deteriorates into popularism. If you want to talk to drunkards you must be like them. Popularism can be very dangerous; you must guide people on land fragmentation,” he said.
The President warned that land is not elastic but the population is growing.
“Where will the cultivation be? Land is not for accommodation alone but for production. We must maintain the integrity of property,” he said.
The conference seeks to mobilize and sensitize the people about effective land use through enterprise selection and mix for poverty alleviation. Among other things, it seeks to know enterprise priorities per region that can give an equal or greater income to what a homestead spends, how much homesteads are spending on needs per annum, the average landholding per homestead and identify government intervention gaps.