Thursday, August 23, 2012
AGRICULTURE AN INDISPENSABLE SECTOR IN POVERT REDUCTION
Munu Martin Luther is the Documentation and Communications Officer, SEATINI Uganda Uganda as the rest of LDCs greatly relies on agricultural sector. About 75% of the population derives their livelihoods from the sector, dominated by small scale farmers. Upon undertaking liberalization policies from 1980s, government support to the sector has been reduced as seen with dwindling budgetary allocation. The 2011/2012 financial year budget recently read by the finance minister shows even less allocation to the sector i.e. around 4% which is way below the Maputo Declaration of 10%! The neo-liberalist paradigm for development that Uganda has consistently taken over the years has put the private sector at the centre of all government initiatives. As a result farmers have been disadvantaged while middle men have taken advantage of the opportunity the expense of the real producers i.e. the farmers. The prices of agricultural inputs have increased, while standards of these products have also lowered for instance hand hoes. This coupled with limited extension services to farmers to a large extent contributed to the steady decline in the performance of the sector. This poses even more challenges in poverty reduction. One of the critical areas to address in promoting the agricultural sector growth is the provision of information to farmers. This revolves around production, market access and building the capacity of agricultural local communities and key players to demand for their rights and influence policies concerning agricultural production, value addition and marketing. It is therefore imperative for all stakeholders to intensify advocacy for government to substantially increase funding to the agricultural sector in order to uplift the millions of Ugandans who derive their livelihoods from the sector.