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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Africa’s growth lies with smallholder farmers

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Author(s): AGNES KALIBATA

As the world’s population surges towards nine billion by midcentury, food production has failed to keep pace, creating rising food shortages and a global food crisis ahead, according to the United Nations. To avoid mass starvation, the world needs to produce 70% more food by 2050.

The greatest potential to deliver that growth exists in Africa. The African continent is home to 25% of the world’s agricultural land. Yet it produces just 10% of the world’s food. That compares with China, which has just 10% of the world’s agricultural land, but produces 20% of the global food supply.

If Africa can now rise to the challenge of upgrading its agricultural output, it will open the way to a takeoff in GDP, greater youth employment, and the potential of positive trade balances and rising currencies.

Yet, the continent faces two profound issues in delivering its own agricultural turnaround, with its agricultural industry both rural and fragmented and built upon smallholder farmers. It is the continent’s rural areas that have been most deprived of resources and investment: with the straight-line consequence that the continent’s core industry continues to under-perform, and under-perform badly.

The allure of city living has left rural areas neglected and strained Africa’s urban infrastructure and services, including health, water and sanitation, creating rising social problems and competition for city space. Indeed, Africa is now the fastest urbanising continent in the world, with 60% of all Africans forecast to be living in cities by 2050, according to United Nations Habitat.

But urban areas are dependent on rural populations for food. Moreover, agriculture holds more power in creating youth employment than any other sector, at a time when 10 million youth are entering the labour market each year in Africa, according to the 2015 Africa Agriculture Status Report.

In late April this year, at the G20 Conference in Germany, panelists at the ONE World no hunger meeting powerfully demonstrated the importance of attracting youth to the agricultural sector.

Rural youth are the future of the sector, with the capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship. Yet their participation has been hindered by the perception that the sector is unattractive due to risks, costs, low-profitability and agriculture’s labour intensive nature.

Additionally, rural youth have limited access to educational programs that provide agricultural skills, often limited access to land, and a lack of financial services tailored to their needs, as well as poor infrastructure and utilities.

The outcome of the ONE World no hunger meeting was the Berlin Charter, which seeks to create opportunities for the younger generation and women in the rural world by mapping out a model for rural development to achieve food security, long-term jobs and improved livelihoods.

It calls on governments to put in place agricultural, nutrition and anti-poverty policies to “lift at least 600 million people out of hunger and undernutrition” and “cut youth underemployment at least by half” by 2025. The Charter with a core focus on smallholder farmers, was presented to the G20 leaders at their meeting in July in Hamburg.

Agriculture accounts for 32% of Africa’s GDP and employs more than 60% of the continent’s total labour force. But in order to realise its full potential, the political and economic environment needs to be conducive for smallholder farmers, who make up 70% of the sub-Saharan Africa population. With smallholder output hampered by insecurity of land tenure and unequal access to land, land policy formulation and reforms are critical in Africa to in order to boost agricultural production. Rwanda has provided a benchmark in this, with over 10 million land parcels now titled and owned individually.

Other problems smallholder farmers face include limited access to markets, finance, high-yielding seeds, farm inputs and mechanisation, which, invariably, lead to low levels of productivity. External shocks such as climate change have further hampered agricultural production.

African countries urgently need to support smallholder farmers in order to capture the continent’s $300 billion food market – projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030. At present, only 5% of Africa’s imported cereals come from other African countries, with intra-African trade running consistently at around 15% of Africa’s total trade — which is amongst the lowest intra-regional trade levels in the world (UNECA). In fact, African governments have stepped-up efforts to transform agriculture over the last decade, delivering often exceptional results.

Ethiopia, for instance, has invested in extension workers, rural roads and modern market-building enabling cereal production to increase and increasing the number of calories its rural people consume by roughly 50%. As a result, Ethiopia is now reducing poverty at the rate of 4% a year (ONE.org, 2014).

Burkina Faso, a landlocked country, has also made remarkable progress in poverty reduction and food security with government investment in the sector averaging 17% of total expenditure for the past 10 years (ONE.org, 2014). Ghana’s agricultural transformation agenda has, likewise, remained a top priority for successive governments, spurring reforms and heavy investment.

Yet, as these early investments now move these particular economies up the growth ladder, other African governments have been slower to prioritise agriculture, despite the demonstrable financial gains and growing consequences in protest on food shortages.

As the G20 now reviews its strongest commitment yet to African agriculture and rural development, African governments and investors, likewise, need to heed the clarion call to action, and move agricultural reform and smallholders to the centre of the continent’s political and economic debate.

 

Accountable Development To Communities

A self-claimed landlord who caused the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders on false charges was aligned before the court and charged with 28 counts.

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Naava while entering court cells at  Mubende.

By Witness Radio Team

A magistrate court at Mubende has charged a self-claimed landlord with 28 counts plus murder. Naava Milly Namutebi caused the arrest of six community land rights defenders, falsely accused them of murder, and got imprisoned for three years without trial. 

Naava’s appearance before the court followed shortly after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) dropped murder charges against six community land rights defenders. These include; Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.

Naava was charged along with Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, Henry Kaaya, among others. They were not allowed to answer any charges as the court had no power to make legal decisions and judgments on charges read to them.

The prosecution alleges that Naava and others still at large, committed offenses in areas of Mubende and Kampala districts between 2006 and 2021.

From 2012 to date, Naava got help from the senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses while forcefully evicting over 4,000 people off their land. 

The land being targeted measures 3.5 square miles covering villages including Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.

Naava and others accused were remanded to Kaweeri prison until 19th/July/2022. 

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

Six community land rights defenders from Kawaala have turned up at police for interrogations but, failed to take off

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By Witness Radio Team.

The six community land rights defenders from Kawaala zone II and the local leader that were summoned to appear at the Old Kampala Regional Police Headquarters have turned up, however, the interrogations did not take off due to the absence of the head of investigating team.

The six community defenders were required to report back to police for further investigations into alleged crimes that have not yet been officially disclosed to defenders’ lawyers. They were supposed to appear before the police investigation team today the 06th of July 2022 at 10:00 AM.

The defenders include; Kasozi Paul, Busobolwa Adam, Kabugo Micheal, Serugo Charles, Ssemanda David, Sserukwaya David, and the area vice-chairman Patrick Kato Lubwama.

While appearing before police for the first time last week on Wednesday 29th, the Deputy Assistant Inspector of Police (D/AIP) Domara Patrick who heads the investigations team casually said the defenders and the local leader are being investigated for obtaining money by pretense and forgery, which charges are not mentioned on police summons.

Since the first COVID outbreak in 2020, the victim defenders and others have been leading a pushback campaign to stop forced eviction by a multimillion dollars Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) being implemented by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). The drainage channel construction is financed by the World Bank.

This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.

Witness Radio – Uganda has established that the Deputy Resident City Commissioner (RCC) in charge of Rubaga Division, Mr. Anderson Burora is among the complainants. Resident City Commissioner is a representative of the president in the Capital City at the division level.

Witness Radio – Uganda believes that police are being used to harass and intimidate defenders to back off the justice campaign for people negatively impacted by the drainage channel.

The defenders and the local council leader have been booked to report back to the police on Monday, the 11th of July 2022 at 9:00 AM local time.

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

A self-claimed landlord who masterminded the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders for three years has been arrested.

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Naava being arrested by police.

By Witness Radio team.

A joint team of investigators from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from Kampala and the Mubende police arrested a self-claimed landlord who falsely accused six community land rights defenders of murder and led to a three years imprisonment without trial.

Naava Milly Namutebi was arrested at her farm in Kirwanyi in Mubende district with other alleged land dealers namely Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, and Henry Kaaya.

Naava’s arrest occurred a few days after the DPP dropped charges of murder against six community land rights defenders who had spent three years without trial. These include Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.

Since 2012, Naava with the help of senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende have orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses against over 4,000 people to evict them off their land. The land is measuring 3.5 square miles covering villages namely Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.

According to locals, Mubende police acting on Naava’s orders arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully detained dozens and dozens of land owners at different police stations in the district. Several victims allege they had to pay colossal sums of money to be released.

For many years, Mubende district has been one of the forced eviction hotspots where families are forced off their land with compensation or being offered settlement. Witness Radio’s one-year research report released in 2017 revealed that over 60% of the total grabbed land in the district was stollen by local investors.

Witness Radio – Uganda research indicates that Naava is involved in multiple land grabs with the help of government security apparatus. In 2017, residents namely Ruhobana Dombo, Samuel Ndekezi, and Chleopus Zariwa from the Butoloogo sub-county in Mubende district were arbitrarily arrested and detained on Naava’s orders by Mubende police.

The victims and other residents lawfully occupied and cultivated their land for decades but got shocked to hear that Naava was claiming ownership of their land.

The trio had gone to their gardens to plant maize on August 17, 2017, when Naava’s stick-wielding laborers attacked and severely beat them.

Naava is currently held at Mubende Central Police Station, with 28 charges including murder, attempted murder, forgery, and others preferred against her.

 

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