Boosting food security: Museveni directs govt on large-scale production

KAMPALA– President Yoweri Museveni has directed the whole government led by the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance to implement strategic interventions in large-scale food production, especially at the time when some parts of the country are experiencing hunger, with related deaths reported Karamoja Sub-region.

On July 13, 2022, the Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF] Frank Tumwebaze wrote to Museveni on the need for deliberate interventions to boost food security in the country.

Responding to Minister Tumwebaze this week, President Museveni in a letter said he has approved the plan by MAAIF to assist agencies like Uganda Prisons, National Enterprise Corporation [NEC], Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF] and big farmers in Northern Uganda and other areas to engage in large-scale production.

Uganda Prisons and UPDF are known for massive production of maize, with the former supplying seeds on the local market for planting countrywide.

Museveni in his letter directed concerned officials to provide the identified entities with agricultural machinery, seeds, fertilisers, and equipment for irrigation. “…I direct the whole government, starting with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to implement this plan by providing agricultural machinery, seeds, fertilisers, and equipment for irrigation,” part of his letter reads.

Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze wrote a letter to Museveni about need to boost food production in the country (Internet photo).

“Also prepare the necessary anti-pests measures to protect these crops,” he ordered in the letter copied to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Permanent Secretary/ Secretary to the Treasury Ramathan Ggoobi.

Museveni’s directive comes at the time when Karamoja Sub-region and other parts of the country are struggling with hunger that has left some people dead.

The Ministry of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees yesterday flagged off a consignment of 552 tonnes of maize flour, 238 tonnes of beans to Karamoja region which experts say started experiencing hunger in December 2021. 518 vulnerable people, according to the Office of the Prime Minister, are affected by the food crisis.

The Napark District Woman MP, Faith Nakut says there is a need to boost production in the region through construction of valley dams and high mechanized agriculture.

While reading the 2022/23 budget Finance Minister Kasaija said agriculture production would be enhanced using the first pillar of the Parish Development Model [PDM] that addresses production, agro-processing, and marketing, through enhanced access and entry to national, regional and global markets.

“This value chain approach allows development of sustainable linkages,” he said, adding that the key interventions would include development of key commodities value chains that have a high impact on transforming the 39 percent of households in subsistence into the money economy. “These include coffee, beef and dairy cattle, poultry, fish, piggery, fruits, and food crops for intensive farming,” he said as he provided 564.39 billion to increase production and productivity.

“The rest of the enterprises including cassava, bananas, rice, Irish potatoes, millet, cotton, tea, cashew-nuts, among others, will also be supported but for relatively big farmers.”

He said there would also be expansion of irrigation schemes and providing community and individual on-farm water for production to minimise reliance on rain-fed agriculture; and ensuring sustained agricultural production.

Further, he said government would enhance enterprise selection through enhanced farmer education and general agricultural extension, as well as pest and disease control at parish level, promotion of appropriate land use, mechanisation, cooperatives, and development of partnerships with large-scale farmers to produce for export and industrial value addition.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has been tasked to lead efforts to boost large-scale food production in the country (Internet photo).

It is not however clear whether government will use the funds provided in the new budget whose planned expenditure is being cut, at least from the first quarter releases to different agencies.

Uganda Food Security Outlook Update for April, 2022, noted the March to May rainy season started late, and cumulative rainfall to date has been significantly below average in the northern and eastern regions and parts of the central region. “Given this, first season crop production is expected to be below average at the national level, with northern and eastern areas likely to experience the worst production losses.”

Given eroded coping capacity following two consecutive below-average production seasons, below-average income-earning and above-average prices are expected to drive an increasing number of poor households in northern areas to face stressed… outcomes prior to the start of harvesting in June/July, when the harvest will support some improved access to food and income through September, the update noted.

“In Karamoja, worsening insecurity is expected to continue to disrupt normal livelihood activities and income-earning. Given this and above-average food prices, purchasing power is likely to continue to decline for Karamoja households throughout the remainder of the lean season, with many poor households likely to face widening consumption gaps given already weak coping capacity.”

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