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We need significant steps to curb inflation, food shortagePublish Date: Jun 16, 2011
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Clet Masiga

IMPLEMENTATION of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Agriculture Sector Investment Plan will not solve food shortage, low income and inflation. To deal with inflation, you need to stabilise agricultural supply and control food prices.

Studies on Uganda’s food supply predict a food deficit by 2030. Countries that experience food insecurity experience high levels of poverty.

At less than 1% , the country’s food production growth rate, is lower than population growth rate of about 3.5%.Since 1995, Uganda has been one of the many countries in sub-Saharan Africa receiving food aid every year.

Currently, Uganda has a low level of investment in agriculture, leading to low agricultural productivity, low agricultural GDP growth rates, low overall GDP growth rates and high poverty, malnutrition, and mortality levels.

Analysis of the recent growth trends in key commodity sectors for agricultural and overall growth indicates that Uganda’s agricultural and overall economy would grow at rates insufficient to cover population growth.

Last year, Uganda launched the agricultural sector development strategy and investment plan for 2010 to 2015.

The budget for this plan totals to sh2.7 trillion , about sh500b per year. Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is an African led initiative working to boost agricultural productivity on the continent.

CAADP’s goal is to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture. To do this, we need to increase public investment in agriculture by at least 10% .

This year’s allocation to agriculture is sh365b, which cannot transform 487,000 farmers benefiting from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS). This means the NAADS manifesto on agriculture cannot be implemented and neither can we transform subsistence to commercial farming unless more funds are allocated to this sector.

Uganda’s new Agricultural Technology and Agribusiness Advisory Services project may not improve the situation either. The project’s objective is to enhance agricultural productivity and incomes of participating households by improving agricultural research and advisory systems across the country.

The President’s strategy is to support three million farmers, 90,000 commercial farmers and 550 nucleus farmers.

The total agricultural investment by NDP is about 30% of our real requirement of sh1.5 trillion.

Other initiatives such as the Eastern Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme, may generate good technologies, but the technology transfer and adoption model by NAADS and the agriculture ministry will not transform subsistence to commercial farming unless the number of target farmers is significantly scaled down.

Unless something more significant steps are taken, Uganda will face food insecurity and the economy will remain undeveloped, at least for the next five years, as much of the income from other sectors will go into meeting the increasing food prices and demand.

The country will spend a signicant amount of forex importing food and thus the inflation will continue increasing as the shilling becomes weaker.

The writer is a Geneticist

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