On Thursday, July 24, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Daudi Migereko addressed the 4th National Development Policy Forum at Serena Hotel on land reform and investment in agriculture for socio-economic transformation organised by the National Planning Authority in partnership with UNDP, the World Bank and ACODE. Below is his speech.
I take this opportunity to thank the National Planning Authority in partnership with UNDP, the World Bank and ACODE for selecting the land question as the subject for debate and discussion at this 4th National Development Policy Forum. I also thank Dr Frank Byamugisha for his well researched presentation that formed a basis for discussions today.
The timing of this discussion could not have come at a better time, given the fact that we have just launched our National Land Policy (NLP) and tabled the Land Fund Regulations in Parliament.
The National Land Policy discusses practically all the Ten Point Programme for Land Reform in Uganda. While in some cases the solutions he advances are similar to those in the Policy, in others there is a variance in regard to how we want to proceed. One key area of agreement is that land reform and investment in Agriculture can lead to socio-economic transformation.
The vision of our NLP clearly captures this: “A transformed Ugandan society through optimal use and management of land resources for a prosperous and industrialised economy with a developed services sector.”
From the onset, I must say this Government has mainstreamed women and youth matters not only in politics but also in land matters.
At the same time, the Land Fund and the Land Fund Regulations seek to address historical injustices meted out on lawful tenants and some communities denying them access to land, land ownership and land use rights. Once this Fund is capitalised, we should be in a position to pay off the absentee landlords.
But at the same time, the landless, land poor and bibanja owners in these areas will for the first time be able to secure registrable interest in their land, hence giving them the opportunity to pursue long term agricultural projects and access land titles which they can use as collateral to access funds to transform agricultural production, their lives and areas.
The National Land Policy and Land Fund also in part seeks to provide solutions to the perennial problems of land disputes and conflicts. Mediation, negotiation and institutions to handle land dispute and conflicts are critical. Also the Land Fund will provide resources to settle the problem of land disputes involving landlords and bibanja owners. As soon as the Land Fund is capitalised, the fund will be utilised to address this problem hence minimising or curtailing the disputes and conflicts in Buganda, Bunyoro and other places.
It is true to say that most land-based livelihoods in Uganda today rely on having secure access to land. It is a precondition for sustainable agriculture, economic growth and poverty reduction. I do agree that there are strong links between inequality of asset distribution and poor macroeconomic performance. This fact seems to suggest that land reforms are one of the most important issues we face in all our attempts to fight poverty.
While there are many routes to poverty reduction which the NRM Government has introduced, the ultimate goal is to ensure socio economic transformation of the population in the shortest possible time. In addition, Physical Planning and proper land use enforcement need to be pursued to ensure optimal land utilization. Adopting fertilizers use and acquiring modern technology to increase agricultural production and avert food insecurity is equally critical.
Growth and poverty reduction will depend significantly on increasing agricultural productivity. There is widespread evidence that, whether a tenure system is communal or individual, freehold or leasehold, farmers are more likely to invest in their land – and achieve productivity gains – when they have secure land and /or landuse rights.
An important component of tenure security in market economies, therefore, is the need to enhance the confidence with which these rights are registered including the time it takes to register them. This quickens access to instruments which can be used to procure credit to invest in agriculture.
The National Land Policy provisions indeed do provide for strengthening security of tenure which will provide a basis for the Government to further strengthen tenure security interventions initially through four main channels which include:
1) Implementation of reforms that enable individuals, family, communal or group registration of land under all the four tenure systems. You are aware that the Customary tenure system under which 80% of the land falls is not recorded.
2) Implementation of a decentralized land administration system as part of taking land services closer to the people;
3) Strengthening the land dispute resolution mechanisms to mediate and litigate amongst those with land conflicts;
4) Implementation of a public awareness campaign on the benefits of productive and optimal agricultural based land use practices.
These four interventions should be able to change the current situation which is characterised with low agricultural productivity in the country. Greater land security should in turn lead to investment in the land and greater productivity.
My Ministry plans to step up its attention on institutional capacity building, especially building the capacity of decentralised land administration agencies and land dispute resolution institutions.
My Ministry will also build the capacity of citizens through expanding their knowledge about the policy provisions and legal reforms to be undertaken, so that they are aware of the opportunities provided to acquire and safeguard their land and land use rights.
Uganda must have a vibrant land market, with a cheap, secure and effective system for recording and transferring land under all the tenure systems. Customary land still remains unrecorded, is insecure and is not accessible to the land market. The Government shall also support the land rental markets through establishing the relevant mechanisms to protect all parties.
I have not addressed in this paper the discussed land reforms and how they should facilitate mining in our country. The mining sector is the other economic frontier which we should take serious interest in. The President and the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development have revealed mineral deposit figures which clearly indicate that severally, Uganda is endowed with world class deposits of minerals in many places.
Successful realization of the transformation envisaged will require appreciation and mainstreaming of land reforms as a critical factor of production and transformation. Demonstration of this appreciation shall be through resource allocation in the budget process.
There shall be re-inventing and retooling of those responsible for land administration and management to play their role in an efficient, effective and timely manner. Partnerships across the sectors including agriculture, Justice Law & Order, Natural Resources and education, will be promoted.
This policy forum has helped to articulate these critical preconditions and I hope, as we move forward, we shall integrate the recommendations into the budgeting process for all the relevant sectors in order to realise socio-.economic transformation of all Ugandans as outlined in our NRM Manifesto, five-year National Development Plan and Vision 2040..
I thank you all.