WORLD BANK: Agriculture key to ending poverty in Uganda

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Kampala, Uganda | A World Bank country report on agriculture in Uganda has concluded that greater focus on the Northern and Eastern Regions will be needed for Uganda to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. This is important, the report adds, to reduce the social and political tensions that can emerge from stark differences in economic development across regions.

The “Uganda – Agriculture Sector Public Expenditure Review” report that was launched at Protea Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday, aims to guide policymakers on where and how best to invest in Uganda’s agriculture sector.  The report that also analyzes the efficiency and effectiveness of public expenditures was produced at the behest of partners –  Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF).

This is Uganda’s second agriculture public expenditure review (AgPER) since 2010. By producing it, the government and the World Bank bring to the fore the best policies to achieve Uganda’s Vision 2040 and the transition to middle-income status.

Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Pius Wakabi Kasajja launched the report with a panel discussion that included Vision Group CEO Robert Kabushenga, an avid farmer.

The report hailed government for realizing agriculture’s potential, but warned that it has to improve the quality and effectiveness of public expenditure in the sector to succeed.

“Efficient and effective spending on agriculture would help the sector to achieve its potential to contribute to inclusive growth, create employment for the country’s rapidly growing and predominantly young population, and ultimately to reduce poverty,” the report stated.

It states that “this new AgPER report aims to identify how public spending can best support agriculture to deliver growth through increased productivity, stronger resilience to climate change and other production risks, and more effective private sector engagement in the provision of public goods in the sector.”

East and Northern Uganda

The report hails the Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan for a policy that ensures the Northern and Eastern Regions receive specific policy attention because of their higher poverty rates and potential for instability. The report calls for even more support for the region as there is a decline in.

“More than three-quarters of people aged 15–24 engage in agriculture as their first job, mostly in primary production. An analysis of six Sub-Saharan countries shows that transforming their food systems from a focus on primary production to market-oriented agri-food value chains could create more jobs between 2010 and 2025 than the rest of the economy.”

According to the Ugandan poverty assessment report (2016), regional variations in poverty are large and increasing, with most of the poor concentrated in the north and east – almost three in four residents (74 percent) live below the national poverty line.

In 2006, approximately 68 percent of the poor lived in the Northern and Eastern Regions. By 2013, this proportion had increased to 84 percent. About 47 percent of the poor live in the Northern Region and another 37 percent live in the Eastern Region.

“Uganda’s agrifood system can play a significant role in enhancing employment opportunities for the
the country’s predominantly young and rural population,” the AgPER report says.

According to the  AgPER report, “the agriculture sector is particularly important for young Ugandans, who are the majority of the population: 80 percent of Ugandans are below the age of 35 and, with a median age of 16 years, Uganda has the youngest population of any country in the world.”

Original Article: The Independent