By Akorikin Francis
As the African Heads of state gathered in Addis-Ababa to launch African Year of Agriculture and food security, it’s reported in various media outlets that the ongoing conflicts in South Sudan and CAR dominated discussions during the two-day event last week.
And yet, on the sidelines of the summit, ActionAid together with other Non-State Actors (NSA) issued a joint statement calling for more political will from the member states to increase investments to agriculture.
The African Union declaration of 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security offers a great opportunity for the continent to reflect and make a renewed Maputo promise and make robust commitments for investments to Agriculture and, therefore, when Museveni landed in Ethiopia to join other leaders for this summit, the excitement was great.
With the summit concluded, once more, nothing has been achieved as our leaders diverted their attention to ‘more’ pressing issues of regional conflicts. But why the deviation on priority and a mismatch from rhetoric and action when it comes to agriculture? It is increasingly getting clear that we can no longer transform our agriculture.
Back home here in Uganda, the situation is not any better, two years since ActionAid launched a public financing for Agriculture project which aims at advocating for increased public spending on Agriculture, the results have not been impressive. During the last budget speech, agriculture was a located meager 3.2% of the national resource envelope despite of the public pronouncement by the government on the relevance of the sector in fighting poverty and unemployment.
With Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA) blue print now dusted, DSIP behind schedule in implementation and NAADs in deeper policy confusion, agricultural transformation is a far dream from achievement.
To a small holder farmer in Kapelebyong- Amuria district, poverty continues to bite as government openly neglects a crucial sector that has potential to uplift them from poverty. Globally, very few countries have achieved rapid economic growth without investments in agriculture accompanying it or preceding it.
Some powerful examples of how agriculture growth can help foster economic development can be seen from the case studies of Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, China, Vietnam and Brazil.
Each of these countries has a unique story and yet they share a common thread: strong and capable government institutions that have implemented agricultural development programmes underpinned by considerable public investment designed to foster broad prosperity. Lessons from these countries provide a valuable policy options to our Uganda government.
The writer works with ACTIONAID UGANDA as Project Coordinator-Public Financing for Agriculture Project