Friday January 11 2013

Uganda needs to test soil samples not MP Nebanda’s body samples

By Emmanuel Sunday

As we start 2013, the economic waves seem to be on a stable equilibrium. Of course this does not make headlines as it used to be when we had an economic hit mid last year. Headline inflation for the year ending August 2012, and, annual food inflation rate declined to 4.2 per cent for the year ending August 2012. (August 31st UBOS Report.)

But this should not make us jubilate and relax well knowing what is happening in the globe. We simply need to put down trivialities and jealously safeguard such scenarios not to happen again. The routine questions behind every lawmaker, law implementers and entire citizenry should be how can we improve our economic well being and deepen prosperity in Uganda?

I am tempted to think that even the economic successes we are registering is out of the efforts of the few leaders, politicians, academicians and technocrats! A gargantuan part of the rest concentrates on what satisfies individualistic interests, which bear no any relationship on the future prospect of the majority.

Cases of such individualistic antics include speculative agitation to press government to spend huge amount of money to confirm what killed MP Nebanda, surprisingly, such pressures were taking place at the same time when legislators in South Korea were engaging their government to avail a plan for the future of the agriculture sector for the next 40 years.

South Korean government is soon to launch the plan for an in-house food production system in order to utilise their land effectively for prosperity. Questions being raised include; will such technology maintain the same productivity? Have scientists been facilitated to carry out rightful study of this technology? How is it likely to compete with other out door technologies? These are to me questions of the 21st century.

We must take note that Uganda soil is loosing its fertility every year. Indeed a study by Slade and Weitz(1991) estimates that Uganda loses 4-12 per of total GDP due to soil erosion and depletion of nutrients.

In East Africa, Uganda is the least country that applies fertilizers and certainly the first country with low productivity. Scientists’ hands are tied for they can not even have meager resources to test our soil fertility in order to guide farmers on the right path. Research organisations have to first bow down before Parliament to allow them adequate financing to do research and innovations which, have a direct impact to the constituents, you members of parliament represent. Whereas the death of Nebanda was a painful tragedy, the end of year decision by some section of MPs to allow public funds spent on the Nebanda’s death was uncalled for.

I get shocked every time the dailies carry headlines; MPs are collecting signatures to recall MPs to discuss MP Nebanda’s death – the body of the deceased is already in the right hand of the Almighty God where we shall all go. Let us leave Hon Nebanda to rest. We should utilise these meager resources to do the following:

Facilitate NARO to carryout soil samples in all regions of Uganda including Karamoja which of recent has been identified as a vegetable hub. Sensitise farmers on how they can increase productivity now that next season rains are expected to be inadequate. Challenges of irrigation are still at hand, farm practices are still wanting and above all, moral support from you leaders is the most paramount. Your words do count to the farmers.

My humble request is to facilitate scientists to fabricate knowledge, tap that knowledge and deliver it to the farmers. I want to applaud some leaders who are exactly doing that, and as farmers representatives we find a big difference in communities which receive such information from the ones that are on the daily doze of toxins!

As farmers representatives we are seriously watching you, the next distiller will have few holes for only those who will have complied with what the society want to consume!

Mr Sunday is the secretary general of Uganda National Farmers Federation.