“POVERTY IS A CHRONIC DISEASE IN ACHOLI SUB REGION”- GULU FORMER UNIVERSITY VICE CHANCELLOR

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Ms Juliet Auma farm inputs dealer presenting during the launch of the 12th Economic Updates by World Bank

Prof. Jack Nyeko Penmogi, the former Vice Chancellor for Gulu University says that a research conducted by Makerere University indicate that poverty is a chronic disease in northern Uganda and that something must be done about it fast. 

Penmogi challenged the World Bank Country Director, Mr. Tony Thompson that there were so many attempts donors communities to eradicate poverty, citing the post war conflict interventions but all these attempts have failed.

 “We had NUSAF 1, NUSAF II, PRDP, ALREP, NURP, NAADS, and now NUSAF 111 interventions, but poverty is the household issue in the north” Prof Penmogi reiterated.

He says his simple research he conducted in northern Uganda, found out that people grow cereal crops like maize, cassava, simsim, millet, sweet potatoes, sorghum for food security instead of earning money.

“If we want to fight poverty in the north, we must protect ourselves from climate change and environmental degradation. We need to change some crops. You have to cut down so many hectors of trees in order  to grow some crops, but with devastating impact. This is very dangerous. We need to introduce perinual  crops like coffee. One week’s drought will have very bad impact on our production .” Prof. Penmogi warned.

Prof. Penmogi said a farmer from Western and Southern Uganda who grow one acre of coffee earns Sh.16 million compared to a farmer of an acre  of Cotton from in Northern Uganda earn only Sh.1.5 million.

He said an Irish Potatoes grower from Western and Southern Uganda earns Sh 18 million from an acre compared to sweet potatoes grower  from Northern Uganda who earn only Sh.4.5million, Prof Penmogi.

Prof. Penmogi says this is why people from Western and Southern Uganda are able to pay  four children to University, each at Sh1.5,mean per semester while parents from Northern Uganda are not able even to pay a single child to University.

The former Rt. Vice Chancellor advised Ministry of Agricultural to re-introduce perinual crops in northern Uganda with support from the World Bank instead of cereal crops that are not environmentally friendly.        

Mr. Thompson, the World Bank Country Director, argues that if Uganda is to realize agriculture potential, the country will need to overcome a range of challenges in relation to agricultural productivity and vulnerability to sector-related risks.

He says national agricultural output has grown at only about 2% percent over the last five years, which is well below the population growth rate which is 3% percent which is way below the 3.5% percent growth rates in East African countries.

He insisted that achieving agriculture productivity growth and resilience will require better technology, tenure security and sound land management practices, as well as the dissemination of knowledge on sustainable input use through effective extension services.

 “To boost the transformation of Uganda Agri-food system towards value addition and job creation, policy implementation and regulation will need to be strengthened, institutional coordination improved and the private sector participation encouraged” he says.

He added that the organization of producers and their integration into sustainable Agri-food value chains should be supported to increase farmers access to finance and markets, and for the competitiveness of the sector more broadly.” Thompson argued.

The World Bank Country Director notes that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth had rebounded strongly to 6.1% percent in Finance year 2017/2018, from 3.9% percent the previous year. The rebound was largely driven by a pick-up in investments and exports, and on the back of strengthened credit to the private sector and good weather.

Mr. Thompson urges that it  will consequently strengthen services, particularly information and communications, sustained strong growth, and food crop production recovered. In per capital terms, however, this rebound translates into 3.1% percent growth rate because of the rapidly growing population. Moreover, the heavy reliance on rain-fed and subsistence agriculture drives the volatility in economic growth at the margin.

Richard Walker, Senior Economist with the World Bank, while presenting the 12th edition of Uganda Economic Update, says despite the rebound in economic growth in finance year 2017/2018 fiscal year, revenues stagnated; while the expenditure mix deteriorated further, with excessive current spending and under-execution in capital spending.

Walker adds that the current spending exceeded last year’s outcome by a striking 1.4% percent of GDP and was above the budgeted amount by 32% percent. At the same time, the larger current spending was not used in finance investment in human capital.

“Therefore, one of the government’s priorities should be to rein on current spending and thereby keeping public debt under control. Meanwhile, capital spending was 0.6% percent of GDP lower compared to the year before and fell short of the budgeted amount by 60% percent. Compared to peers, capital spending in Uganda stood at 4.4% percent of GDP in fiscal year 2017/2018, which is less than half the size of Rwanda’s capital outlays by 10.3% percent of GDP. And only 60% percent of Kenya’s which stand at 7% percent of GPD combined with deficiencies in the quality at entry of projects, cost escalations, and poor quality of some completed projects for rapid growth and socio-economic transformation. Therefore, connected efforts are required to improve public investment.” Walker spelled

Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi, Chairman of Gulu District, says last year (2017), he attended a workshop organized by Refugee Law Project and was dismayed when the research was presented that Northern Uganda was was using only 20% percent of their arable land in  agricultural production.

“The question is, how and when, as region,  are we going to realize 50% percent of our arable land use? We have high opportunity in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and from Kenya whose good trucks are invading Northern Uganda in search of what the region produce.It would be a wild dream if ministry of Agriculture can address this ” Gulu District Chairman collaborated

He says the Ministry for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fishery should  turn the abounded 100 boreholes in Gulu District countryside into irrigation projects. He says the irrigation would enhance the productivity of the primary production, give access to adaptation of  high quality agricultural inputs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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