Kinyara Sugar Factory officials, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Masindi and the state minister for Bunyoro affairs, Ernest Kiiza, were last week grilled by the district leaders and the sugar cane farmers’ representatives over exploitation of farmers by Kinyara.
The trio was grilled on Wednesday during a stakeholders meeting that was organized by the Resident District Commissioner Masindi, Godfrey Nyakahuma at Kabalega Resort.
Speaker after speaker blamed Kinyara for failing to handle issues which oppress sugar cane farmers which include under paying farmers, delayed harvesting of cane, delayed payment among others.
Cosmas Byaruhanga, the chairperson LCV, Masindi district, accused Kinyara Sugar management for not being transparent noting that as leaders in Masindi have engaged Kinyara over many issues all in vein adding that Kinyara does this because state protects them.
Byraruhanga added that unless Kinyara comes and start protecting the farmers that is when the farmers will be relieved of the tribulations they are going through. He added that what is hurting them is the state to protect the investor at the expense of the farmers saying that the state is a 100% leaning on the side of investors.
Robert Atugonza, the chairperson Masindi district out growers Association, said that if Kinyara doesn’t style up its operations, farmers will cause a demonstration noting that is optimistic that this will cause scarcity of sugar in the country.
Atugonza added that they are going to organize a demonstration because Kinyara is paying cane farmers peanuts adding that when the time for the demonstration reaches, the RDC should grant them permission such that they can show the world the exploitation they are going through.
Jos wamara a sugar cane farmer from Bwijanga Sub County explained that farmers are being exploited because this matter might have not been brought to the attention of the president maintaining that what they want is timely harvesting and payment farmers.
He added that if these issues were addressed to the president, he wouldn’t have issued a directive stopping sugar cane from moving outside Masindi. One of the resolutions which were reached at was the RDC Masindi Godfrey Nyakahuma gave an ultimatum of one week to the haulage manager to have eliminated spillage of cane or be arrested.
Speaking during the same meeting, Visnu, the Finance controller Kinyara also who represented the General Manager accepted to look into the issues which were addressed to him noting that they are going to ensure that they improve where they have not been moving well.
Ernest Kiiza the Bunyoro affairs Minister promised to take up the issues distressing the farmers and also dismissed allegations revealed by Cosmas Byarruhanga the LCV masindi district that the state has done nothing but exploiting them at the expense of the farmers.
What you study in school can hardly contribute 20% of your success, the rest of the things come from your attitude towards the world, how committed and motivated you are, therefore students need to think out of the box in order to excel in life, a university dean told a regional student camp gathering in Kampala
The advice was recently given by Dr. Krishna Sharma, the Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, Victoria University Kampala, while addressing students from Ugandan Schools and Neighboring Country Schools on success tips during the official opening of the 2017, Reach a Hand Students #GetUpSpeakOut Camp at Hana International School.
“It doesn’t matter if you score 90% in class. It’s not going to determine your future, it’s not going to guarantee success. Don’t go into rat race of marks and percentages, rather than that, focus on the cross pollination of knowledge. Be time conscious – have time management and motivated. Try to be skillful and useful rather than a machine of producing good marks in class.”
“I started early in life, at 18 I published my first book. Trust and have faith in your ideas. Don’t fear to fail. My friends and family had faith in my ideas. One of my book project was rejected by more than 25 publishers and I decided to publish it on my own. This book become my first best seller.
When that book became the best seller, it gave me confidence. If over 25 publishers failed to evaluate my book, it is possible that lecturers can fail to evaluate students. We are producing for the market therefore the best evaluator is the employer,” the academician told students from Uganda to Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda.
The annual youth camp organized by Reach A Hand Uganda is one of the many engagements the University has put in place to ensure they facilitate a smooth transition of students from secondary to University life. They have visited various schools like Vienna College Namugongo, St Peters SS Namugongo, Bishop Cyprian Kihangire and Nalya SS so that they uplift these youngsters.
“This is where our first clients (students) come from. We equip these students with the skills and assist them before leaving secondary school to join university. We give them different competencies and skills. This is what we take to them.” Abdul Kalanzi, marketing and recruitment specialist at Victoria University said in an interview.
There is always that desire to get your dream job right after university. Actually many young people refuse to take on lesser jobs waiting for the big dream job to come their way. However Rajiv Ruparelia, the promoter of Victoria University thinks otherwise.
While speaking at the second graduation of Victoria University at Kabira Country Club last week said this could be a wrong approach most times to many graduates. Rajiv, a youthful successful entrepreneur, advised that starting at the lower ranks of a working environment prepares you to grow professionally.
“The mistake many of you make is that you want to be Managing Directors after university, no, this is wrong. Start at the lower ranks and grow within the system. This prepares you to excel and gives you experience.” Rajiv, also Managing Director of Ruparelia Group said.
Twenty three students walked away with degrees in different disciplines while two took home diplomas. The university acting Vice Chancellor Godfrey Nyakana said about 150 students earned certificates in different courses but most notably in oil and gas management.
Three students earned a bachelor of nursing science, five students graduated with bachelor of midwifery science, six students were awarded a bachelor of public health and one student got a bachelor of computer science.
Also, one student got a bachelor of IT, two students got a bachelor of banking and finance, and other two students got a bachelor of business administration while one student each got a diploma in social work and social administration and business information systems.
The Chancellor of Victoria University in Kampala Dr. Martin Aliker called on graduating students of Victoria University to add value to society by being compassionate.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank parents who have come here for supporting and funding the education of your children. To the students go out and add value to society. Be compassionate.” Dr Aliker counseled graduates at the graduation ceremony.
Joseph Nyakaana, the university vice chancellor said the University currently boosts of 199 students undertaking studies in the four faculties. He advised graduates not to sit on their laurels because they have graduated. He noted that graduating is no achievement compared to what awaits them in the employment world.
As the International Associations of Athletics Federation World Cross-country event that was held over the weekend unfolded, there was so much noise about what could have been done to promote it even better than we did. The event falls under the sports tourism section that Uganda neglects when it comes to promoting what the country offers.
An event of such heavy magnitude brings so many nations in one country with some of the biggest media houses camping in the city to get ready for the final day. Away from covering the city with Ugandan flags like we do during independence week, what more could have been done?
Publicity Maybe most people do not understand how PR is for events and marketing, but without it most campaigns are not relatable to the masses. Well planned PR strategies give a human face to whatever you try to market. Sheilah Nduhukire, a journalist with NTV Uganda, remarked on Saturday how it is important to not assume the media is an extension of your PR department. If you do not make effort to reach out and give them a storyline, how are they going to help you create a big cloud of publicity? You do not put up banners, billboards and street pole advertising for a big event just days to the d-day.
Journalists are there to carry 10% of your marketing but you are supposed to do the heavy lifting. The PR plans and how to execute them should be something worked on for months before the campaign kick-starts. Do not expect journalists to be there ready to take whatever you throw at them, they have many companies and issues in the country to cover.
Teamwork The whispers and meeting about the IAAF event started at around December 2016, although the actual planning started in January 2017. Yet, it didn't look as well planned. According to someone involved in the planning, the event was a battle of wills of who of the major bodies is above the other when it comes to execution. With cards held close to their own offices, how do you expect to jointly use a huge event to promote the country when everyone wants to take individual credit.
Actual Branding When you looked at the track where the athletes were running from, all you saw were placards of the Ministry of Education And Sports, Tourism Uganda to mention but a few. Everyone knows that sports fall under the Ministry of education and sports so why not put up well branded pictures of what the sector has done to promote sports in the country? Happy children running track in a stadium or maybe the cranes playing ball? Something that speaks work and the brand the ministry is supposed to advertise. Instead of Ugandan Tourism banners, why not throw in beautiful pictures of the scenery. The commentator subtly promoted Uganda more than most Ugandans did at the event. This is evident in most of the international events that Uganda hosts, we have not become creative with branding yet we have so much to play with.
Artistry We usually use these huge events to promote our vast cultures with the Ndere Troupe always ready to show some Kiganda/ Kigisu or Kikiga dance for the guests; but why not go even further by promoting the other artistry? The ushers could have been dressed in something sporty made by one of our designers in the country. If you had looked closely you could have noticed the beautiful ladies handing over medals to the guests were dressed in gorgeous heels. Why weren't those ladies wearing some of those well made heels with Ugandan fabrics on them? Some of these small things people pick up on when looking at the TV when the event is dragging.
Planned Tours Yes we are very good at showing people around our country but we need to do a well planned tour for the visitors. When most people travel to new countries, some of the first things they want to try out is the local cuisine. Yet, the athletes were being sent fast food restaurants when the local food ones were just in close proximity. If the athletes can't make it to the countryside to see the animals plus the lush greenery of the hills. Bring it to them, all those beautiful visuals of the country would have worked well around the track.
History How can a country that has such a rich history neglect cataloguing and taking care of it. The Uganda museum is now a place you don't want to sit in for longer than 20 minutes. Most of the beautiful relics are dusty and left to rot while the toilets leave you wishing you didn't drink all that water. We can do better than just blankets and wine at the Uganda Museum. It should be part of our most valued sites in the country, it should be respected and protected.
That being said, congratulations to Jacob Kiplimo for that Gold win. You made history.
The climate change debate has globally continued to dominate the world agenda aims to finding the lasting solutions to the effects and impacts that is threatening the billions of lives in both developed and developing countries.
This week the Conference of Parties (COP) 22 will be taking place in Marrakech Morocco where negotiators around the world will convene and discus among others strategies in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change that was formulated during the COP 21 in France. In Paris Agreement, countries committed to reduce their carbon a missions and establishes guidelines for international collaboration on climate change.
As the world leaders commence with the discussions in the COP22, Uganda is already battling with the impacts of climate change that has already driven three million people into famine in the cattle corridor; some of the worst affected districts include Isingiro and Kiruhura among others.
The prolonged drought that has mainly affected the cattle corridor stretching from south western to north eastern Uganda is primarily responsible for famine, as a result nearly Seven million more people are currently vulnerable to famine; the state minister for disaster preparedness Hon Musa Ecweru re-affirmed this last week during his interview on NTV Uganda show.
As much as government responded by delivering relief inform of food items to the worst affected households and further assuring the country that no person will this time die of hunger, these are temporary solutions that government needs to rethink and find sustainable ones.
It should be noted that, Uganda has persistently suffered from drought and flood that often result into famine for the past decade with Karamoja and Teso sub regions being the most affected with loss of lives and livestock evidenced.
As the country continues to grapple with the challenges of climate change, and negotiations take off in Morocco, it is important for the government of Uganda to reflect and focus on finding sustainable solutions to climate change impacts, which can be done through building communities capacity to adapt to climate change impacts especially in agricultural sector for this matter.
Climate change adaptation can be described as any adjustments to actual or expected climate change hazards and its effects in order to reduce harm or exploit potential benefits. It can enable communities to withstand these impacts and save government billions of money as well.
It should be noted that agricultural sector is the most vulnerable to climate change hazards such as floods, drought, high temperatures among others and these impacts have the potential to slow both economic and social development of the country.
In order to build communities capacities to adapt, the adaptations must be informed by Climate science that will guide to identify the magnitude of the risk and identify the appropriate adaptation strategy. In additions, communities must be involved in the planning and identification process so as to create ownership of the initiatives and to have a better understanding of the increased risks and uncertainties that climate change brings.
In addition, strengthening of local community capacity to access climate related information, managing risk and uncertainty of the impacts is of significant importance in this struggle. Finally, Civil Society Organizations should continue to lobby and advocate for formulation and effective implementation of climate change laws and policies in the country.
Programs and research coordinator / climate change expert
Africa Institute for Energy Governance
Recently, members from the Morocco Steering Committee for the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties (COP22) met with the some civil society organizations to discuss the possibilities of having enhanced civil society participation in COP22 meeting in Marrakech Morocco.
The COP, which will sit from 7-18 November 2016, is expected to bring together over 181 countries under the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC).
It is an opportunity for African to reflect on the challenges it has faced in dealing with climate change impacts and exploit the opportunity to ensure that the outcomes of the Conference address their concerns. It should be noted that Africa has already hosted two COP meetings before that is, COP12 that took place in 2006 at Nairobi Kenya and COP17 that took place in 2011 at Durban South Africa.
Even so, COP22 comes at a time when climate change impacts have intensified in the recent times, with frequent hazards of high magnitude resulting into loss of lives, property, agricultural land and pollution of water bodies among others that is already driving millions of people into abject poverty.
For instance, in the 2010 Bududa district in eastern Uganda suffered one of the worst climate change hazards in recent time where thousands of people were buried by mudslides, lives and property was lost. In addition, in 2011, Teso Sub region was hit by floods that destroyed agricultural land and human settlements; this resulted into an outbreak of famine in the region. Further, in 2014, Karamoja region in northeastern Uganda suffered a prolonged drought that last over six month, lives and livestock was lost that required intervention of government for food aid.
As much as these hazards occur both in developing and developed countries, the developed countries has a better means of dealing with the impacts whereas the developing countries lack the technology and human capacity to predict and mitigate the hazard and to contain the hazard as well. For instance during the mudslides in Bududa, government of Uganda with the help of the army and community members used hand hoe to dig out the bodies and would be survivors, this intensifies the risk even further.
It is important that the negotiations in the COP 22 whose theme will be monitoring sustainable development goals and commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change focus on establishing the strategies through which Africa can be best adapted to managing climate change impacts.
Therefore, the representatives from partner countries who will be participating in negotiations must advocate for establishment and operationalisation of Climate Change Finance for Africa that will be used to build the adaptive capacity of local communities to climate change hazards in rural communities and prone areas of Africa.
In addition, there must be avenues for technology development and transfer of technology from developed countries to developing countries on best mechanism of dealing with climate change especially on water and agricultural sector, which supports more than half of African population.
Finally, as a means to embrace sustainable development, respective governments must be urged to embrace mitigation through subsidizing the cost of exploiting renewable energy, planting more trees to absorb carbon emissions and encouraging use of public transport as opposed to personal cars.
By taking actions jointly on Climate change, we shall be able to pass on a better sustaining environment to the next generation than we actually inherited and avoid blame game.
This article was written by;
Programs and research coordinator
Africa institute for energy governance
A global wave of actions to keep fossil fuels in the ground has been gathering momentum all over the world. Already seen in countries such as UK, over 300 people shut down the UK’s largest open cast coal mine for a day. Hours later, 10,000 people from all over the Philippines gathered in Batangas City to demand an end to coal.
All these huge actions are in the name of ending the dark activities of fossil fuel companies. As such, the potential harms of Uganda’s budding oil well as well as the building of pipelines towards Tanzania should never be overlooked. With economic specs on, oil and gas looks like a worthy undertaking. But zooming towards the real world infested by climate change syndromes, you are instantly shocked by the obvious contributions of burning fossil fuels to climate change.
While “Phasing out fossil fuels,” is a decision already reached by 195 countries including Uganda during the 2015 United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Paris, the land locked country is embarking on gigantic fossil fuel investment. Anyone with a reasoning mind can hesitate here.
The fossil fuel industry, with its companies and lobbies, not only harm our planet by producing greenhouse gas emissions that create climate change. They also breed bad blood infecting democratic systems by using corrupt practises, bribery and tax evasion to accomplish their goals, ultimately affecting our governments.
Across Africa, the impact these damaging lobbies are as abysmal as coal pits. From South Africa to Libya and from Nigeria to Uganda, there are rising worries that African heads of states’ tough grips on power is akin to the prospects about the mineral wealth in their respective countries, a feeling that has not spared Uganda as regarding President Yoweri Museveni’s 30 year old regime.
Newspapers recently quoted the president say: “You hear people say ‘Museveni should go’, but go and leave oil money,” at a campaign rally in eastern Uganda. The same source says Museveni’s obsession with the country’s largely untapped oil reserves will either prove a benefit or a curse to Uganda. But experience shows that a curse is inevitable.
Talk of the devil, to start with, already there has been perilous court turmoil over oil firm contracts and negotiations on building a refinery. Oil and gas was discovered way back in 2006, around the same time as Ghana, which started production in 2010. Uganda is expected to start its pumping hers in 2018.
Even darker, these resource agreements are shrouded in secrecy, keeping millions of Ugandans in the dark about events in the sector. A group of civil society organisations – including ActionAid Uganda, Global Rights Alert, Seatini, Advocates coalition for development and Environmental Transparency International Uganda – has launched an online petition urging president Museveni to make the extractives sector more transparent but the outcomes are still disappointing.
“Winfred Ngambiirwe, the executive director of Global Rights Alert told journalists in Kampala: “We would also like government to make a binding commitment by agreeing to take tangible steps to better involve the citizens in the development of oil and gas sector.”
While many Ugandans are pinning their hopes for a better life on the fledgling industry and oil is expected to earn the country more than $3bn annually for close to two decades once production begins, our hopes may be a waste. But damages including climate change, health hazards, corruption and possibilities of wars in the oil rich region are even heavier and disheartening than the expected revenues by all measures.
The climax of such a “tragedy of endowment” – as development economists of Makerere University call will be reached when truths begins to unfold as trickling oil money is diverted by the further military ambitions of the future leader and strengthening their arsenals rather than focusing on pursing the economic and social welfare of the public.
Again, everyone should be wary because fossil lobby has known for years of the existence and potential damage of climate change and has never acted accordingly. An investigation from last year showed how Exxon Mobil knew about climate change as early as 1977, but this did not prevent the company from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation.
Furthermore, they fund climate change denial through big foundations and organisations, and promote solutions that are in line with their corporate interests, but many times not enough to preserve the planet.
In 2015, a study proved that ExxonMobil and Kochs family are the key actors who funded the creation of climate disinformation think tanks and ensured the prolific spread of their doubt products throughout mainstream media and public discourse. For many years, anonymous billionaires donated lumpsum valued at $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science.
Thus, for a developing country neither free from the dangers of climate change nor safe from kleptomaniac political systems as Uganda, the people should demand accountability now and during production. Doing so, we are clearing the path of development off unaccountable governments, but above all, protecting our ecosystems against the harms of fossil fuel industry and block the rise of oil-greedy governments.
This article has been written by Boaz Opio, Climate Change Campaigner Kampala Uganda
An education expert at Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) has advised that students must be resilient when tackling obstacles that stand in their way of education.
Steve Lang, the school director at KISU while addressing the school’s open day gathering explained that young learners are faced with many challenges, which, together with teachers, must be able to solve.
He further explained that KISU is working towards producing self-reliant and self-motivated students so that they are competitive in the employment sphere. “We want them to be thoughtful and analytical. We want them to understand issues by asking their teachers why and how other than just what.” Lang explained.
He stated that KISU, a leading international school strives to ensure that students are active learners, self-motivated and that they engage themselves in their own learning process. “We must do all that we can to ensure they have the best chance of succeeding in this context.” Lang said.
At the school’s open day, students exhibited their school work, finished art and crafts pieces, paintings, fabrics, music and dance while parents and other guests were treated to a sumptuous meal and a variety of drinks.
The school is owned by the Ruparelia Group headed by businessman Sudhir Ruparelia. The group has other schools including Delhi International Public School, Kampala Parents School and Victoria University Kampala. Kampala International School is home to about 600 students from 60 nationalities.
It was established in 1993 with a population of 67 students. It has sections of pre-primary, primary and secondary. It offers international curriculums including the National Curriculum of England and Wales.
Uganda doesn't spring to mind for most people when coming up with a list of the world's oil-producing nations. But, in fact, 10 years ago more than two billions of barrels worth of oil were discovered in the landlocked nation, where nearly 40% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.
Since the oil discovery, many Ugandans have made the connection between oil, government revenues and how it has the potential to improve their lives, and that of the poor service delivery in much of rural Uganda. To them, oil is seen as a cash cow to save Uganda from its worst demons.
But it’s a connection that is over rated. Reports on ground indicate complete absence of corporate social responsibility on the part of contracted oil companies drilling the resource. The locals, and in particular those whose existence depends on local lakes and rivers, have suffered a lot.
Many local residents have been displaced from their land with little or no compensation. Most of them have been deriving their livelihood from fishing and farming. They are poor, but rather than benefitting from the discovery of oil near their homes, their source of survival hangs in balance. Where others see business opportunities, these locals see themselves as losers.
With countries like Tanzania and Mozambique home to major new oil and gas reserves, the prospect of massive new investments in Uganda's energy sector has sparked debate between those who say the country has a right to use whatever resources it has and those who are pushing it to avoid high emissions growth for the sake of the planet.
Climate change should caution us about the dangers of the conventional economic idea that any kind of economic growth is good. It is ironic that, as the developed world rings in the end of fossil fuel era, Uganda is poised to begin it. It is, of course, about economic growth, development and money.
Uganda, like many African oil producing countries has been given a pass when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. In international climate talks, the “politically correct” stance has been that, first developing countries did not cause this mess; second, they need to focus on building out energy access to their populations; and third, their poor are most vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change. So, as the ‘’victim’’, Uganda just like other African countries should be given free rein to grow carbon use.
Uganda is looking to build an oil refinery and huge oil pipeline from albertine region to Indian Ocean coast. This appetite to extract oil is driven by deeply entrenched local and international business entities with little regard for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), global carbon budgets and most importantly recently adopted COP 21 Paris agreement which calls for transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy. Of course one has to wonder as this seems to be a dangerous energy path for the country.
So like many developing countries, Uganda faces two possible development pathways: one driven principally by renewable energy, or one pulled by the temptation of fossil fuels: oil and gas. The idea of infinite economic growth, which proves so attractive to economists, investors and financiers. It is premised on the assumption that there is an infinite supply of earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being exploited beyond the point it can replenish itself.
On the other hand, the shift to renewable energy resonates with a sustainable mode of economic thinking. It should teach Uganda a lesson that oil and gas reserves will create short-term booms, but these can collapse as many oil-producing countries are discovering in the face of plummeting oil prices.
Of course, if we consider how developed countries have attained their development through the use of fossil fuels, oil and gas development may seem an automatic path to go for Uganda too. However, this assumption teaches a simple lesson but which is fundamental. We need to debunk the myth Ugandans are holding that becoming an oil producing nation guarantees a rocket ride to a modern future.
Our country must commit itself to international legally binding Paris accord which calls for real action to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean and renewable energy by 2050.
Uganda is largely an agricultural country however modernisation of agriculture is probably the most important developmental challenge facing Uganda, Bank of Uganda reveals. The central bank also warns that without agricultural modernisation it is very difficult to envisage how Uganda’s economy will ever be able to achieve middle income status.
The revelation was made by Dr Louis Kasekende, Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda at the High-Level Meeting on Developing Approaches for Financing Smallholder households in Uganda organised by Uganda Agribusiness Alliance.
The meeting discussed the Topic: Shaping the Future of Smallholder financing in Uganda. Below is the speech made by the deputy governor at the meeting which took place at Protea Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday April 20, 2016.
The vast majority of farmers in Uganda are smallholders and produce almost all of the country’s agricultural output. “Ninety six percent of total farm output in Uganda is produced on farms of five hectares or less in size. There is no feasible route to agricultural modernisation which does not place the smallholder at its centre.
Although Ugandans often perceive themselves as “blessed by nature”, our agricultural performance has been poor for several decades. Aggregate output growth has been weak and the growth that has occurred has largely been the result of increases in land acreage under cultivation and increases in the agricultural labour force.
Both average land and labour productivity have been stagnant for decades. The 2012/13 Uganda National Household Survey indicated that two thirds of farmers are classified as subsistence farmers. An earlier survey found that even the most commercialised quintile of farmers marketed only fifty percent of their output.
Modernising smallholder agriculture in Uganda will require helping farmers to improve their farm practises, utilise more modern farm inputs, especially high yield variety (HYV) seeds and produce more output for the market, thereby raising yields per acre and labour productivity.
We know, from the work done on demonstration plots supported by development agencies that farmers can, in principle, achieve large increases in their crop yields even with relatively low input technologies combined with the adoption of good agricultural practises. Ugandan smallholder farming has the potential for transformation but the constraints to this transformation are both large and multifaceted.
A lack of access to finance by smallholders is one of these constraints, although not necessarily the most binding constraint for the majority of smallholder farmers at this early stage of agricultural development. To tackle the multiple constraints to the modernisation of smallholder agriculture, we need to adopt, and persevere with, a holistic long term approach. Such an approach should have four key components.
The first, and probably most important in the early stages of agricultural development, is to provide agricultural extension services which can reach the majority of smallholders throughout the countryside and provide advice on the adoption of good agricultural practises and the optimal crops to be grown, given the characteristics of their farms, as well as post harvest handling and storage.
Agricultural extension services must be supported by good agricultural research. Both agricultural extension and agricultural research have the characteristics of public goods, because the dissemination of agricultural knowledge from one farmer to another means that social benefits exceed private benefits. Hence they should be subsidised through the Government budget.
The second component of a holistic agricultural strategy should be to strengthen land rights. As in many African countries, land tenure systems in Uganda are often complex and the ownership or usufruct rights of farmers are often unclear and insecure.
This deters farmers from making long term investments in land improvements and it is also an impediment to access to formal sector credit, because land with unclear ownership is not suitable for loan collateral.
The third component is better rural infrastructure, especially rural feeder roads. The commercialization of farming is impeded by the high costs of transporting farm inputs and outputs, from farm gate to and from the market, because of poor roads.
High transport costs drive down farm gate prices of farm output and drive up input prices, which undermine the commercial viability of farming. More public investment in the construction and proper maintenance of rural feeder roads is essential to support the modernisation of smallholder agriculture.
The fourth component is improved access to finance. As I noted earlier, this may not be the binding constraint for many smallholders, especially subsistence farmers. Access to finance will only benefit those farmers who have the knowledge and capacity to use purchased farm inputs to raise their productivity in a manner which generates profits and which does not expose them to a potentially ruinous level of risk.
This probably currently applies to only a minority of smallholders in the country, although the number of smallholders who could benefit from finance should rise substantially if the other constraints to agricultural modernization are effectively tackled.
In formulating policies for the development of agricultural finance best suited to support the modernisation of smallholder farming, it is necessary to address two important questions: what specific type of financial services do smallholder farmers need? And what types of financial institutions are most appropriate for delivering these services? A third important question is whether the provision of finance to smallholders warrants any form of public subsidy. I will not attempt to provide comprehensive answers to these questions but I will offer some thoughts on them.
Smallholder farmers will probably need a range of financial services, beyond the provision of credit, to support their efforts to modernise. These services will include savings and probably insurance products. The latter are especially important to mitigate the risks that arise from possible crop failures and the volatility of farm gate prices, which are a deterrent to commercialisation.
I don’t think it is likely that commercial banks will be the main vehicle for providing financial services to smallholder farmers, because the banks’ business models entail transactions costs which are too high to make serving customers with micro-savings and micro-loans commercially viable.
Instead other types of financial institutions which can access customers at lower cost and develop lending models which can mitigate the risks of lending to customers with little formal collateral are more suited to providing financial services to the smallholder sector. These institutions include microfinance institutions, including those which take deposits, and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs).
There may be a case in principle for subsidising the provision of financial services for smallholders, because rural financial markets are undoubtedly afflicted with market imperfections, but I don’t think it is a very compelling one in practice.
Clearly the public resources available for supporting agricultural modernisation are highly constrained and it would be a more efficient use of these scarce resources to focus them on providing public goods such as agricultural extension services rather than in reducing the cost of credit.
Furthermore, the availability of subsidised credit creates incentives for its misallocation; it is very difficult to target subsidised credit effectively at those borrowers who need it the most and prevent it being diverted to richer farmers instead.
Finally I want to stress the importance of more research into all aspects of agricultural finance and its efficacy for agricultural modernisation. The characteristics of smallholder farming in Uganda are very heterogeneous.
What types of agricultural finance work best in different circumstances (different crops, different land tenure systems, etc) is mainly an empirical question for which economic principles can only take us so far.
There is no substitute for detailed empirical research, for example research involving randomised controlled trails. I hope that Ugandan researchers will take up this challenge and help to guide us in charting the way forward for agricultural modernisation in Uganda. On that note I will conclude. Thank you for listening.