Lira man wants farmers awarded Shs25.2t in landmark case against govt

Dr Dan Okello stands in front of the Lira High Court registry on November 30, 2022. PHOTO/BILL OKETCH

What you need to know:

  • President Museveni has recently blamed the country’s poverty on poor enterprise selection, land fragmentation, colonialists, laziness amongst Ugandans and past leaderships.   

A man in Lira District wants court to compel government to award farmers Shs25.2 trillion for “voluntarily refusing to implement the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”.

Dr Dan Okello, a senior citizen and resident of Okwetkwer Village, Aromo Sub County, said President Museveni, endorsed the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) popularly known as Maputo Protocol in 2003. 

The declaration contains several important decisions on agriculture, key among which is the allocation of at least 10 per cent of annual budgetary resources to agriculture.

The plaintiff, however, said while Uganda is a signatory to the Maputo Protocol, President Museveni “has refused to commit to the Protocol”.

“According to Maputo Protocol, 10 per cent of Shs32.7 trillion is Shs3.27 trillion which is the right allocation for the agricultural sector in the 2018/2019 financial year,” the former lecturer at Makerere University said.

He averred that “unfortunately, only 2.7% was allocated to the agricultural sector in 2018/2019 and therefore, the balance of 7.3 per cent (Shs2.377 trillion) should be given to the agricultural sector as arrears”.

“Our prayers are that the government of Uganda should give accountability for the allocation of annual national budgets for 16 years to the farmers in Uganda and also pay the farmers arrears for at least seven years; 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

He also alleged the government of Uganda has subjected over 80 per cent of people who are peasant farmers to “abject poverty, abuse of human rights and corruption”.

Dr Okello further asked court to order the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government to pay farmers over Shs25.2 trillion as arrears for at least seven years.

The money in question to be paid in seven installments. The arrears to the farmers are to be paid to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and be spent on construction of dams, purchase of irrigation pumps, provide ox plough, seeds and seedlings, fertilizers and tractors, among other agro inputs.

On November 30, 2022, the hearing of the case “Okello Dan versus Attorney General’, which originated from a civil application No: 100 of 2018, flopped and was pushed to March 29, 2023.

President Museveni has recently blamed the country’s poverty on poor enterprise selection, land fragmentation, colonialists, laziness amongst Ugandans and past leaderships.   

“They (locals) must work for the stomach and the pocket. But secondly, even the ones who are working for the pocket do so without calculations. That is how you get West Nile growing tobacco. If you grow tobacco on one acre, you will never get out of poverty…” he said while addressing leaders from the Acholi and Lango sub-regions at Baralegi State Lodge in Otuke District on June 11, 2022.

But in his affidavit, Dr Okello argued that low funding of the agricultural sector accounts for “rampant poverty, low level of production, famine, poor yields, lack of storage for agricultural products, and collapse of cooperative movement in Uganda.”

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