UPC External Bureau Victoria, British Columbia
What does it mean to poverty reduction?28 January 2006
The expression "modernization of Agriculture" has cropped up many times over the last 20 years of NRM government. It has become one of the hallmarks of the NRM visionaries. But how clear is the vision of these visionaries. Most Ugandans would be interested to hear the answers to the following questions:
- What does the expression "modernisation of Agriculture" mean?
- How will we recognise it when it happens?
- Does modernization of Agriculture mean we will be using more tractors than we did in the past? If so, how will that be funded?
- Does it mean the formation of communist type collectives?
- Is it large scale farming by a few farmers possessing hundreds of hectares of land?
- What role will the peasants play in this modernization?
- Will it actually happen?
We cannot venture to answer these questions. Perhaps the visionaries themselves should tell us what they mean.
What we know so far is that a simple implementation of valley dams flopped.
Construction of valley dams simply required digging a hole in the ground and cementing it to reduce water leakage into the soil. The NRM could not even dig a few holes. Can they manage anything that is more advanced or complicated?
We also know that agricultural production has declined in virtually all crop types. A recent article by Andrew Mwenda attests to this. Declining production of crops means increasing poverty for people in rural areas. Is this what modernization is about?
We also know that agriculture is perhaps the best avenue for getting cash into the hands of poor peasants. Our people in rural area are very proud of who they are. They are hard-working, and they are not looking for charity or handouts. They should not be exploited by people selling them to NGOs as if they are slaves. If they are given the right tools they will rise to the occasion and excel.
The NRM has no well-articulated plan to improve production of agricultural produce. They seem not to be conversant with the bare essentials required to till land. Here we must distinguish between a person standing under a tree and looking over grazing cows and a person turning over soil to plant crops.
There is a difference between the two. The fact that a person owns 5000 heads of cattle does not necessarily qualify him/her to be an expert of all other types of farming.
In the 9 year period, between 1962 when Uganda attained independence and 1971 when the UPC government was toppled, agriculture producttion grew year over year, at a rate exceeding 30% growth per year. Peasants had access to both mechanised tilling (using tractors) and the more manual ploughing using oxen. Had stupidity not over-taken us, we would be weeding millet using motorized equipment by now. Those of us who had the privilege to attend classes at Kabanyolo know things could be better.
The Uganda Peoples Congress a track record on developing agriculture. They the party with the experience are to get in there and fix things quickly.
The FDC is bound to get bogged down as they sort things out with their brothers in the NRM.
Long live the people of Uganda. Long live Mama Miria Kalule Obote. Long live the long suffering peasants of Uganda.