New policy to turn food items into cash crops

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Charles Ngabirano inspects cotton lint. In Uganda,

Charles Ngabirano inspects cotton lint. In Uganda, cotton is grown in nearly every part of country and is entirely rain fed. Photo by Francis Mugerwa 


Posted  Wednesday, December 11  2013 at  14:14

Cotton just like the other traditional cash crops will have to compete with other food crops in a move aimed at increasing the country’s earnings.
Government recently elevated the status of food crops such as sim-sim, maize, beans and cassava to cash crops, setting the stage for competition.

Statistics show that the country’s export revenue declined due to a reduction in coffee, cotton, tea, fish and flowers export earnings.

Bank of Uganda figures show that Uganda’s current account deficit declined by $178.8 million (about Shs450.879 billion) during the quarter that ended July to September 2013.

In an interview with Prosper magazine, the Minister of Agriculture, Tress Bucyanayandi, said the agricultural policy specifically encourages turning food crops like cassava into a cash crop.

“If you can get money out of ginger or beans or even maize then be it. This means that we are not just going to concentrate on just cotton or tea or coffee alone but try to have all other crops into cash,” he added.

About $2.735 billion (Shs7 trillion) was collected from coffee fish and fish products, tea, cotton, flowers, horticultural products and gold with cotton contributing around 40 per cent of foreign exchange earnings in 2012.

The move to elevate the status of the non-traditional cash crops to cash crops, according to the government, is informed by the desire to spread the sources of crops generating foreign earnings.

Although this move is well intentioned, fears are abound, especially among cotton farmers, the endorsement contained in the agricultural policy could undermine the growth of cotton industry that has been fetching the country millions of foreign earnings.

In Uganda, cotton is grown by more than 250,000 subsistence farmers.
Uganda has more than 40 operational ginneries. One ginnery is operated by a co-operative union while the rest by private companies. However, there is a need for modern machinery because most ginneries operate with old machines.