Sunday, 4 August 2013

South Africa advises Uganda against land giveaways

Kampala.
Uganda should not give away the land but instead use it for agriculture development, which is currently operating below its potential, South Africa’s minister for National Planning Commission has said.
Answering questions after delivering the 21st Joseph Mubiru, Memorial Lecture, on August 2 at Kampala Serena Hotel, Mr Trevor Andrew Manuel said: “Uganda’s agricultural sector is operating below its potential in the range of 5 to 10 per cent. You should not give away the land but instead develop it. Ugandans are good at farming.”
On several occassions, the government has given away land to foreign investors either to set up hotels, factories or to grow crops to provide raw material for their industries a development which has seen schools losing land to investors.
This, together with the land tenure system in place continues to hinder agricultural development in the country, according to analysts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund who have often called for land reform policies in order for Uganda to realise agricultural development.
Mr Manuel said that government needs to support agricultural development by investing in it because the sector has a lot of potential in supporting Uganda’s economic development.
At the continent level, Manuel said Africa has great potential to raise the volume of and value of its agricultural production, and to expand related business activities, especially in agro-processing with high levels of positive outcomes; from raising rural incomes to boosting GDP growth, and creating business opportunities.
Mr Manuel further stated that many farmers can’t buy expensive machinery, high yield seeds, and fertilizers because of inadequate finance systems.
“All of this is compounded by the land tenure system. African countries have spent decades trying to jump-start agricultural production, if over these problems Africa can become a bread basket of the world,” he said.
Mr Manuel added: “African economies need to use the mineral wealth to invest in the infrastructure that will allow them to diversify our economies, and pay for our capability upgrade.”