I had opportunity to visit the Jinja Agricultural Show Ground, Sunday 17th July 2011, and all I have to say is that our leaders in Uganda are the reason why our country has poor agricultural output hence even the famine. I was impressed to see what the prisoners have to show. They are telling us that they are productive given the gardens. This productivity should mean that they should be better fed. Secondly, it is not clear why the prison authorities keep hiring out manpower of prisoners when they can produce food that can be sold and help support the prison services. These among others are the challenges our leaders are failing to sort.
I was impressed by the water harvesting on display at the show and I wondered why we keep crying that we cannot arrest the weather conditions when at the show one can get free knowledge.
The Bio gas digesters are on display for all to see how bio gas can be made and eventually used in our homes.
The energy saving stoves are there for all to see, and eventually implement at home.
Our cattle keepers have kept on with poor quality cattle while designs for better managed cattle can freely be got from the show at Jinja. The feeding under zero-grazing is all well shown.
It is impressing to see the seeds grown by the local seed companies. The outlook of the crop which a show-goer sees is a real challenge that we have the seeds locally raised which can give us high yields.
In a nutshell, the show is a challenge to the leaders in Uganda who should see to it that this more beneficial to the people by encouraging them to visit when the show is officially on, and that after the show has closed, the area remains a learning place for those who want better innovations in agriculture.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
AN EXPERTS' OPINION
By Charles Ogang
THIS year’s Source of the Nile National Agriculture and Trade Show will take place 18th – 24th July 2011 at Jinja Show Grounds.
The 19 year old annual show is organised by the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE)
The show, whose focus is agriculture, and which attracts visitors from all over the country and beyond, offers farmers an opportunity to learn about new developments in the sector.
As organisers of the show, we want our farmers to learn new technologies that are being developed, new crop varieties, and to make contact with other farmers across the country, network for marketing purposes and share ideas to improve skills in production.
We believe that when we provide a platform like this one for farmers it will increase their productivity, create market linkages and provide opportunity for them to learn more from other farmers across the region.
We believe that once people come to the show and learn new technologies and innovations, we are addressing the gaps that exist in agriculture in terms of production, market linkages, processing, packaging, copping with weather challenges among other issues.
We expect other players in the Agriculture sector such as research centers to participate. The purpose of research is to make sure that end results, get to the targeted consumers.
There is a tendency for us to complain that when research is carried out, it remains on the table.
So this time round, all researches will be displayed and farmers interested will benefit from them.
This is an area where we want all the research carried in relation to agriculture, be brought to the show so that people can make use of it and adapt to these new research varieties.
Participants will also include service providers such as banks and other financial institutions. Financial service providers will use the opportunity offered by the show, to teach farmers how to utilise their services in their agricultural work.
Besides marketing themselves, they have to show farmers how they can access their services, because most of them think that bank loans are for a select few.
So we want our farmers, especially those from rural areas, to know that they can get small loan finances from financial institutions to boost their production.
Although the show primarily targets farmers, we are also bringing on board traders.
While the emphasis is on promoting the agriculture sector, traders dealing in non-agricultural commodities which are of interest to farmers will also be present.
Besides attracting more visitors, this is meant to cater for farmers other needs outside their farming work.
So visitors will also be able to shop for non-agriculture items like craft materials from Kenya and Tanzania. There will also be wild animals like lions, leopards, crocodiles and ostriches on display for visitors to enjoy at a small fee.
Amusement centers have been put in place for visitors to enjoy themselves after touring the agricultural stalls, and towards the end of the show there is cultural entertainment and drinks. This is called agri- tourism, a lucrative niche that our farmers should take up seriously.
This year’s agriculture and trade show, under the theme: ‘Promoting Agriculture Commercialisation as a strategy to Access EAC common Market’, has attracted exhibitors from as far as Brazil, France, and Turkey in addition to those from the East African Community and locals from Uganda.
Appeal to farmers
My appeal to farmers across the country is that they should utilise the platform provided by the show to learn and earn from their sweat.
We must focus on quality and increased production as we target the regional market. If we are to compete in the regional market, we need to strategise so as to compete at par with other countries in the region.
Our theme this year is a challenge to our producers and processors to think of ways, we as Ugandans, can benefit from the regional market. All our efforts should be focused on accessing that market.
Welcome to the show.
PRISONERS WORK LIKE SLAVES
By Benon Herbert Oluka
Posted Saturday, July 16 2011 at 00:00
Prisoners across the country are subjected to hard compulsory labour, routine abuse and exploitation by officials, Human Rights Watch said in a report released.
According to the report “Even Dead Bodies Must Work: Health, Hard Labour and Abuse in Ugandan Prisons”, researchers visited 16 prisons across Uganda and found inmates forced to trade sex for food and prison officers profiting illegally from the work done by the detainees.
The 80-page report, said prisons officers pocket profits from the sweat of inmates who they force to work under brutal conditions while prisoners suffer illnesses from inadequate food, water, and basic hygiene, according to the HRW.
“We dig from morning until evening without rest. They beat your head, back, or legs when you fail to move fast.… We’re never paid for it, not even in food or soap,” the report quoted one prisoner named Daniel.
“We work on government land, private land, and the OC’s [officer in charge] garden. The OC is given money when we go to private land. Sometimes it’s Shs50,000 up to Shs100,000, depending on the shamba worked on. We see the money when the OC collects it. He tells us,” he added.
Ms Katherine Todrys, a health and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, and one of the authors of the report, said: “Prisoners in Uganda, many not convicted of any crime, are brutally beaten and forced to work under conditions resembling slavery.”
HRW called on the Ugandan government to prosecute prison officials profiting from or abusing prisoners, ensure adequate medical treatment and cut down on the length of time suspects spend in pre-trial detention.
Uganda’s Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija admitted that the prisons were not conducive. “As far as I am concerned these issues are very hard-hitting and I have to deal with them and I have to review my controls,” Mr Byabashaija told AFP.
“We have very congested prisons ... the fact is that a lot of prisons are far under international standards.” HRW says 56 per cent of Uganda’s prisoners – over 17,000 people – have not been convicted of a crime and are locked up awaiting resolution of their case, sometimes for years. Every year 50,000 people pass through Uganda’s prisons, which include both larger, regional prisons and smaller, rural prisons, according to findings by Human Rights Watch.