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To develop, Africa must utilise its endowments

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th July 2009 03:00 AM

IN April 2009, I went to Israel. During my time there, I visited an international agriculture trade show. A number of countries were exhibiting agricultural machinery, crops, seeds and expertise.

IN April 2009, I went to Israel. During my time there, I visited an international agriculture trade show. A number of countries were exhibiting agricultural machinery, crops, seeds and expertise.

By Margaret Muhanga

IN April 2009, I went to Israel. During my time there, I visited an international agriculture trade show. A number of countries were exhibiting agricultural machinery, crops, seeds and expertise.

Israel is a small rocky desert in the Middle East. The soil on which they plant food was excavated from Entebbe Airport and some from Tororo. It is, therefore, amazing, that they produce more food and even export surplus to Africa, yet most parts of Africa are rich in soil coupled with good weather conditions.

The green revolution in Israel started in 1950 after they realised that their neighbours were complicated and could only rely on themselves for survival.

Uganda, which is blessed with rains and at least three planting seasons per year, has emaciated people dying of hunger. The famine situation in Uganda is a clear example of poor planning. Not by the Government, but all of us.

The Government cannot plan food security for every household. It has put systems in place and there is enough sensitisation about food security. But as individuals, faced with the monster of climate change and unpredictable weather conditions, we need to plan.

This requires a concerted effort by everybody and not politicising the famine situation in the country. The Government has started an emergency food relief programme in the affected areas, but we hear of more famine threatening to hit dry areas of southern Uganda. This should awaken us and encourage us to plan better for food security. There should be by laws on mandatory local silos (enguli) for every household in Uganda. Every home must save food for future use during a dry spell, like the one we are experiencing now.

Most land in Uganda is arable. We, however, rely on rain and have no water harvesting methods in our homes. This calls for local leaders mobilising the citizenry towards water harvesting for every homestead during heavy rains. It also alerts the Government to intensify the gravity flow water schemes which can be used for simple irrigation during the dry spell.

The unpredictable weather that left the people of Teso with barely nothing to feed on is an eye opener. I have visited Teso before and I find it a fertile area for both animal husbandry and food crops. All that is needed now is planning.

There can be simple technology in agro-processing in rural areas using solar driers and other methods to curb the post-harvest loss that farmers suffer during high yield seasons. This is already taking place in most parts of Uganda. In my constituency, women are making banana flour. This means that even when the bananas are in a bad season of low yields, they can use the flour as food security.

One needs to visit the agricultural trade fair in Jinja to see a clear picture of “starvation amid plenty.” All the food exhibited is from Uganda and yet in the same country people are dying of hunger.

A friend once said: When God asked Europeans what they wanted Him to do for them; they asked for ‘wisdom’, the Arabs asked for ‘oil’ and Africans said ‘whatever you feel we desire.’ The Europeans have used wisdom to transform their countries, the Arabs have used oil to get better, but we, Africans, have failed to use the endowments given to us to transform our societies.
The writer is the MP of Kabarole

To develop, Africa must utilise its endowments

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