History, going back to biblical times, is heavily laden with stories demonstrating food as an ultimate game changer.
In Genesis, there was the story of Essau selling his birthright to his younger brother for a bowl of food. He was very hungry after a hunting expedition that his birthright meant nothing in the face of hunger.
In more recent times, oral history tells of how the Basiita of Ankole handed over kingship to the Bahinda clan for a bowl of millet. Again like in the case of Cain and Abel, the throne or kingship meant nothing to Kasiita in the face of hunger.
In Uganda, there has been a lot of hullabaloo about the discovery of oil, but there is one major game-changer that is not being given the required attention. And this game-changer is food.
In the Budget of 2019/2020, agriculture was allocated Shs900 billion behind health, infrastructure and other service sectors. This allocation is not only insufficient to cause the desired change, it is also below the 10 per cent budget allocation to agriculture agreed upon by African nations during Maputo Declaration.
Any nation, family or individual who does not plan their food supply risks not only being exposed to hunger, but they also risk being subjugated by those who have planned their food supply. This has happened in the past and can still happen.
Uganda may be lucky not to have faced a major countrywide drought in recent years, but we have not leveraged well on our God-given advantage.
To illustrate this point better, we can compare two nations Uganda which has a comparative advantage in agriculture and Isreal which doesn’t.
Isreal is much smaller than Uganda, actually it is 10 times smaller than Uganda. Israel’s land surface is 20,770 square kilometres while Uganda’s land size is 200,520 square kilometres. The arable land in Israel is 20 per cent of the land while Uganda has 34 per cent of its land as arable land.
Uganda, therefore, has 6.5 million hectares of arable land while Israel has only 215,000 hectares of arable land. The arable land in Uganda is 30 times more than the arable land in Israel.
But how have the two nations performed? From the 215,000 ha of arable land Israel has, it is one of the world’s largest exporters of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is also one of the leading exporters of agriculture produce.
Israel currently exports about $2.5 billion worth of agriculture produce per year while Uganda, which has 6.5 million hectares of arable land exports $840 million of agriculture produce per year. This is about three times less than what Israel exports and yet we have 30 times more arable land.
If Uganda was as efficient as Israel, we should be able to export $75 million worth of agriculture produce every year. Uganda ought to be an economic power house.
Many developed nation’s and a few developing countries with foresight have not only stopped at driving for greater agriculture production, but they are also storing in food reserves.
In Empires Of Food, authors Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas discuss how the establishment of strategic grain reserves has been by-key to food security since Joseph advised the pharoah on the meaning of his dream. “The first rule of a successful food empire is to keep the larder stocked”.
Without secure food supply even the stoutest ring of fortification won’t protect a society from being overrun by Huns.”
On top of feeding, it is more than 1 billion people, China currently has grain reserves of about 200 million tonnes. They hold 48 per cent of the global wheat reserves.
In contrast Uganda has storage capacity of 920,000 MT. This storage levels not only make us vulnerable in case of famine, but it also compromises our economic strength.
Nation’s with foresight know that much as other sectors such as the service sector are important, agriculture sector still retains the top spot.
A human being can do without other services or even the much hyped about oil, but cannot do without food for more than a week.
Therefore, prudent planning for a nation, Uganda inclusive, should prioritise agriculture or food planning for present and future food needs to avoid a possible Cane-Abel scenario.
Uganda has all it takes to be an economic powerhouse if it focused most of its energy on food production. Oil is important but food still remains Paramount.
National Coffee Forum Petitions Parliament Over UCDA Merger
Coffee stakeholders through National Coffee Forum say UCDA merger will disrupt the coffee sub-sector. Coffee is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange for Uganda
Coffee stakeholders through the National Coffee Forum – Uganda (NCF – UG) has petitioned Parliament through the Speaker over the proposed mainstreaming of Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) into Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)
The government plans to merge a number of Agencies to the line Ministries in a move aimed at saving about Shs1 trillion annually. If the move succeeds, UCDA will be taken to MAAIF.
However, coffee stakeholders through NCF – UG say that they find the proposal to take UCDA to MAAIF untenable and detrimental to the coffee sub-sector.
NCF-UG is a private foundation whose membership includes farmers, processors, exporters, roasters, brewers and researchers, among others.
The Forum Chairperson Francis Wakabi says that mainstreaming the entity will negatively affect the achievements Uganda has attained in coffee production and export.
“This decision will negatively affect our access to the international market and will stunt Uganda’s economic growth opportunities by distorting the functions of UCDA that have stabilized the industry over the years,” said Wakabi in a petition dated February 21, 2024. The petition was copied in to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as well as all MPs.
He adds that Uganda should not risk its achievements by tampering with UDCA that is the main contributor to our coffee success story.
“Mainstreaming it would therefore disrupt the many livelihoods that depend on the industry and adversely affect the badly needed foreign exchange for the country,” the petition reads in part.
As a result of UCDA coffee regulation, Wakabi says that Uganda’s competitiveness was elevated on the global market, ensuring high quality Uganda coffee and enabling Uganda’s coffee to displace that of Brazil and India in Italy and UK coffee markets.
“… World over, coffee is supervised and regulated by a specialized body like UCDA for purposes of institutional memory and specialized focus. Experience from Ethiopia and Kenya who disbanded their specialized coffee authorities and mainstreamed them back into the relevant ministries had to reverse their decisions after registering negative outcomes,” said Wakabi.
The Forum further says that the European Union (EU) buys over 60% of Uganda coffee, making it the biggest market for Uganda.
“The EU has introduced a new regulation called the EU deforestation regulations (EUDR) which bans export of coffee from deforested land, taking effect from 2025. This calls for farmer traceability and the EU commission in Uganda is already working with UCDA to implement the said regulations. They require a country to constantly monitor deforested areas and map all the farmers for purposes of implementation of the farmer traceability program to maintain a high standard of quality. It was reported that Uganda has achieved most of the requirements under the EUDR and required a few steps to be declared compliant. Monitoring and implementing the scheme for the millions of farmers is a tedious activity which requires a specialized unit that can be best implemented using the already established structures of UCDA. Disrupting the current UCDA structure will not only halt the progress made in achieving compliance, but also risk reversing the gains made,” added Wakabi.
He avers that UCDA has been able to greatly contribute to Uganda’s improved Coffee quality through implementation of programs such as certification of Coffee nurseries to ensure quality of planting materials, Provision of Coffee specific extension services and agronomy to improve production and productivity, Provision of technical expertise in Coffee rehabilitation, post-harvest handling practices and pest and disease management and provision of coffee processing equipment like wet mills to farmers and cooperatives to improve quality and promote value addition. The coffee stakeholders are worried that once UCDA is taken to MAAIF which is loaded with many crops and projects, coffee, a key source of foreign exchange for Uganda may not get the necessary priority. Coffee stakeholders argue that if indeed Parliament is a people-centred institution, it should listen to the views of farmers and other stakeholders and retain UCDA as a semi-autonomous agency.
“Given the above position with the attendant reasons, the NCF advises that the proposed mainstreaming of UCDA into MAAIF should not be implemented and that the proposed Bill No. 30 (part VII) be dropped in order not to disrupt the industry and the progress made under the stewardship of UCDA. All coffee stakeholders are unanimously in agreement with this position,” reads the petition in part.
Govt to import 10 million vaccines to control cattle disease
Entebbe, Uganda. Government is set to import 10 million doses of vaccines to enable scaling up of ring vaccination as the fight to eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ugandan cattle enters a new phase.
Cabinet chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Monday also proposed that once ring vaccination is complete, farmers start paying for the FMD vaccines in a compulsory vaccination scheme, and thereafter, trade in animal products, will be restricted to those adhering to the plan.
Minister of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fishers Frank Tumwebazwe on Monday shared the resolutions after Cabinet laid out strategies to contain the disease that has hit 36 districts.
Cabinet agreed to create a revolving fund to enable procurement of sufficient FMD vaccines to facilitate compulsory bi-annual vaccination of the susceptible domestic animal population. It also approved a plan for farmers to pay for the vaccines while government covers other costs.
“Vaccination is to be made compulsory. Proof of vaccination will be a precondition for any farmer to sell any animal products,” said Minister Tumwebazwe.
“I appeal to fellow livestock farmers and stakeholders to understand and appreciate these effort as we steadily move to eradicate FMD in Uganda just like other animal diesases like rinderpest wre eradicated.”
The 36 districts currently affected and under quarantine are Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Bunyangabu, Butaleja, Fortportal City, Gomba, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kasanda, Kayunga, Kazo, Kiboga, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kumi, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyotera, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mityana, Mpigi, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namisindwa, Ngora, Ntungamo, Rakai, Rwampara and Sembabule.
All districts neighboring the affected districts are at high risk, under strict surveillance, and the authorities have been advised to remain vigilant.
These include Apac, Amolatar, Bugiri, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kaberamaido, Kaliro, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Katakwi, Kasese, Kibaale, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Masindi, Mayuge, Mukono, Namalemba, Nakapiripirit,
Palisa, Rukungiri, Sironko, Wakiso and Soroti.
Tumwebaze assured farmers that in the next one or two months, his Ministry expects to receive and dispatch 2.3 million doses of the FMD vaccine to the affected and susceptible districts for ring vaccination scale-up.
He told parliament earlier that as a way of increasing availability of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccines in the country,
Uganda’s National Agiculture Research Organisation (NARO) has started the process of formulating and developing an FMD vaccine for Uganda.
Source: The independent
Farmers losing Shs4 trillion due to livestock diseases
ScienceDirect has revealed that farmers in Uganda lose more than $1.1b (Shs4.1 trillion) in aggregated annual direct and indirect loss due to the rising spread of tick-borne animal challenges, with the commonest and economically damaging tick-borne disease being the East Coast Fever.
The livestock industry in Uganda and its productivity continue to be threatened by a number of diseases many of which are tick-borne related.
This, Dr Anna Rose Ademun, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioner animal health, said results from arcaricides that have become resistant, thus the need to ensure collaboration and get solutions to the problem.
“There are ongoing efforts by the Agriculture Ministry, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to support diagnosis of tick resistance to acaricides at regional laboratory centres but this is not enough,” she said during the livestock industry key stakeholders meeting in Kampala, which had been convened to discuss and prioritise areas for tick control.
The stakeholders included veterinarians, extension staff, farmers, processors and government representatives.
Ministry of Agriculture is already working on the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative, which seeks to, among others, provide sustainable solutions to enable small-scale farmers maximise the potential of their cattle by developing and practicing methods that can successfully manage tick infections in cattle.
During the meeting, the TickAcademy App, which will support farmers in managing tick infestations was also pre-launched.
By the end of January, farmers and extension workers will be able to access the app’s educational content, which includes simple-to-watch films, to help them become knowledgeable about tick control.
Mr Enrique Hernández Pando, the GALVmed head of commercial development and impact, said the Managing Animal Health and Acaricides for a Better Africa Initiative will be important in tackling acaricide resistance challenges as well as help farmers and animal health officers to access creative methods of addressing the problem of acaricide resistance.
During the meeting, stakeholders jointly agree to train and sensitise field staff and farmers about tick management strategies that work, as well as strengthen the diagnostic infrastructure and testing capabilities for tick resistance and other animal health-related concerns.
Others will involve making it easier for farmers to obtain credit from savings institutions run by farmer groups at a reasonable cost so they may purchase specialized equipment for applying pesticides.
Mr Nishal Gunpath, the Elanco Animal Health country director south and sub-Saharan Africa, said they will support the Initiative to drive livestock in a better direction, noting that it will also help small-scale livestock farmers to maximise their potential.
Original Source: Daily Monitor
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