- Agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in Uganda
- According to the Uganda National Household Survey UNHS 2017, the bigger percentage of 65 per cent of the Ugandan working population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing, with 70 per cent of females and 58 per cent of males engaged in the activity
- Kenya’s agricultural sector, dominated by small holder farmers, generates approximately 60 per cent of the country’s exports and directly contributes about 30% to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product GDP, compared to Uganda’s meager 24.9 per cent
By Ronald Orachwun
Nebbi- The African Union AU has commended Uganda for registering a positive trend in agriculture on the continent.
Reports from the AU shows that Uganda, as one of the 55 member states, has steadily picked the pace in agricultural development and has been highlighted as one of the 20 leading African countries in delivery on development targets of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme CAADP.
With notable success registered in Public Private Partnerships and steady increase in investment by government each financial year, Uganda is a dependable destination for agricultural investment and highly competitive player on the International market.
For instance, the overall production of the major root crops (sweet potatoes, potatoes and cassava) increased by a 12 per cent margin from 2016 to 2017, with this positive shift being attributed to the relatively stable rain fall pattern in the country.
The agriculture sector had a total contribution to the Gross Domestic Product GDP at current price of 24.9 per cent in the 2016/17 financial year. The food crop sub sector had registered the highest contribution within the agricultural sector of 13 per cent, an increase from 12.1 per cent the previous year.
Uganda’s agricultural sector presents multiple highly profitable investment opportunities both for profit oriented investments and partnerships.
However with all the available opportunities and compared to her Kenyan counterpart, the 2017 National Food Security Assessment Report compiled by an Inter-ministerial team, says the number of food-insecure Ugandans may rise to 11.4 million, compared to Kenya’s 10 million people who are categorized as chronically poor.
The sector aims at significantly contributing to the reduction of hunger and the number of people living below absolute poverty lines to less than 25 per cent as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.
Kenya’s approach to improved agriculture as compared to Uganda lies in rural transformation, including empowerment of rural smallholder farmers and connecting farmers to market opportunities for agricultural products, which has continued to grow in the local, national and international markets.
Richard Olobo, from the Nebbi district Local Government production office says government needs to intensify sensitisation and provide mechanized ways of agriculture if profits from the venture is to be maximised.
“We still have majority of Ugandans practicing subsistence farming. Government should not think that there is going to be much dividend realized from the practice with this. On top of timely planting and cultivating high yielding and high quality crop varieties on large scale, we also need tractors and capacity building for our local farmers. With this, at least we shall get harvests that can fetch both the farmer and government some good money. This is why when famine and drought hit, majority of our people are left without food.”
He adds, “It is true Uganda has a very conducive climate for farming and we have the capacity to do more than we currently doing but people’s perception is still making agriculture look like it is an activity for the poor people”.
Mr Valente Oyukutu, the Alur Kingdom Secretary General says government policies such as the Operation Wealth Creation OWC was initiated to help get people out of poverty but it is also promoting the dependency syndrome among the beneficiaries.
“People have been forced to wait for what government has to offer in terms of seeds and other inputs. Sometimes government delivers those inputs late or during dry seasons at a time that no one expects to plant anything. That’s why most of those seedlings have been drying up here. We must admit that Uganda has good plans but the implementation is becoming a big problem,” Mr Valente said.
How food insecure are Uganda and Kenya?
Data from Twaweza East Africa shows that 85 per cent of Ugandans were worried that feeding materials would run out of their homes in the last three months, compared to 68% of Kenyans who reported the same, a figure that shows the huge magnitude of food insecurity in Uganda.
The report also shows that 77 per cent of Ugandans ate less than they should, compared to 61% of their Kenyan counterparts.
It also shows that 75 per cent of Ugandans skipped a meal in the last three months, compared to just 55 per cent of Kenyans.
The data is contained in the; sauti za wananchi Uganda, round 1 6th-13th October 2017 and sauti za wananchi Kenya Round 17, 16th September to 13th October 2017, in which 69% of Ugandans ran out of food in their households compared to 51 per cent of Kenyans.
Whereas 67 per cent of Ugandans were hungry but did not eat, this is compared to only 51 per cent of Kenyans.
The data also shows that 49 per cent of Ugandans went without food for the whole day, as compared to a meager 42 per cent of their Kenyan counterparts.