On behalf of United Democratic Ugandans (UDU), I thank the United States Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Scott DeLisi for his statement on the role of agriculture in tackling the challenge of poverty in Uganda. The statement is timely and relevant because over 80 percent of Ugandans depend on agriculture for their livelihood and poverty is higher in rural than in urban areas where NRM government has concentrated its effort.
The rural areas in Uganda are dominated by peasants who have been the engine in the production of agricultural export commodities and food crops since the 1920s. It has been demonstrated globally that small holder farmers when facilitated are more productive, more efficient and more environmentally and socially friendly than large scale farmers.
The international community including the United Nations, G8 and the World Bank has agreed to support smallholder farmers in the efforts to increase global food productivity and total production. G8 has already allocated funds for supporting small holder farmers including in Uganda. UDU calls upon the Uganda government to create an enabling environment to boost small holder productivity including through high yielding seeds, organic and inorganic fertilizers and small scale irrigation schemes than replace them with large scale farmers as Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi suggested not too long ago. As agreed by NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), a development organ of African Union, Uganda should earmark at least 10 percent of national budget to the agriculture sector beginning in the 2013/2014 financial year.
UDU also calls upon the development community including bilateral, UN agencies and the World Bank to recast their priorities in favor of agriculture and agro-processing activities. We recommend that UDU’s National Recovery Plan (NRP) with a comprehensive section on agriculture and agro-processing should provide a basis for supporting smallholder farmers in boosting agriculture and related manufacturing enterprises and services. The Plan is available at www.udugandans.org.
Secretary General, UDU