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Why should we lease land at giveaway prices?

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th June 2009 03:00 AM

Recently, the President wondered why we export raw materials (coffee for example) to Europe and then import processed and transformed versions of the same products at double the price we sold the raw materials.

Recently, the President wondered why we export raw materials (coffee for example) to Europe and then import processed and transformed versions of the same products at double the price we sold the raw materials.

Bob Natifu

Recently, the President wondered why we export raw materials (coffee for example) to Europe and then import processed and transformed versions of the same products at double the price we sold the raw materials.

The President’s remarks make sense. However, we seem to be back to the same evil, read the article, Egypt to grow wheat in Uganda, The New Vision June 4.

Egypt’s growing of wheat could be another ploy by the Government to give land to the Egyptians to carry out their trade in Uganda. Egypt’s top wheat importers growing wheat is not the problem, but the caviar will be how this deal turns out at the end.

I envisage something like what happened in the past when the Government signed a similar deal with China only to bring in Chinese labourers — in a country with abundant labour force. Agriculture ministry officials should take extra-caution and work-out the trade-offs we stand to gain as a country. Ideally, leasing land sounds good on paper but in reality Ugandans loose from such investments. The question is: Why can’t we farm this land ourselves? With population explosion we need every piece of land in Uganda.

According to the press, Abdelaziz el-Deeb, the ministry’s director for coordination of these projects, says: “Ugandans are benefiting from these countries’ expertise and should appreciate that our land is being utilised.” I vehemently disagree. Why should Ugandans wait for ‘technological’ and ‘expertise’ transfer?

I have not read about Uganda buying, let alone leasing land in Asia, Europe or America. These countries can never allow you or the prices will chase you. So why do we throw away our land at pocket change? If the Egyptian deal goes through, Uganda will be indebted to this company and will probably get much less profits compared to the company.

By leasing land to foreign nations, we are continuing the imperialism era. What Uganda needs is direct community partnership and investment by the Government. In addition, the Government should give Ugandans modest donations and incentives to facilitate them to buy equipment, and also train them in agri-business. Only then shall we benefit from our labour and land.
The writer works for Manafwa district

Why should we lease land at giveaway prices?

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