High commodity prices threaten PDM

What you need to know:

The Parish Development Model (PDM) programme’s success is tagged on four sectors but I will stick to one, which is commercialising agriculture

As of July 14, fuel pump prices neared Shs7,000 in Kampala and surrounding areas.  Up-country, fuel prices are closing to Shs8,000 and at many fuel stations, supply of both diesel and petrol is uncertain.

The Parish Development Model (PDM) programme’s success is tagged on four sectors but I will stick to one, which is commercialising agriculture.

Commercialising agriculture requires four basic things namely; land as principle requirement, capital to procure farm needs, labour both skilled and casuals, market for the produce and transportation of the ready products, which require mobility supported by fuel. Any tilt in fuel whether prices of availability immediately negatively affects the growth of agriculture and this would generally fail the PDM from inception.

Close to 518,000 people in Karamoja Sub-region are facing high levels of food insecurity. Certainly, Karamoja can only participate in agriculture among the four pillars of PDM.

With the hunger, drought, and rains that are still far, it is clear that Karamoja may not be on board for PDM as soon as it’s required.

 Any disbursement of money for PDM in Karamoja is likely to be eaten by the beneficiaries. Common sense and logic calls for food in the stomach before thinking of planting, goat rearing or chicken keeping. This ultimately impairs success of PDM in Karamoja Sub-region.

 Livestock, which is a source of livelihood of Karamoja, is on the verge of being whipped out due to lack  of water and pasture.

 Additionally, there is high cost of animal feeds. Largely in central Uganda, two major economic activities that have supported both small and larger scale farmers have been chicken and pigs rearing.

The cost of maize bran which is 70 percent major feeds for both pigs and chicken has gone wild. The average cost of a kilogramme of maize bran is Shs1,200 which is so costly for any farmer.

Farmers in Wakiso, which habours 65 percent of urban farmers in Uganda,  are counting losses.  My neighbour in Mabanga Village, Namayumba Sub-county has close 500,000 layers at his farm.  The cost of poultry feeds has increased by 85 percent and this has direct negative impact on the business profitability.

Someone struggling to get maize flour for home consumption has been forced to sale their chicken and pigs at any price. Ideally, the stock would have been core to build on as part of PDM operationalisation.

On the other hand, fuel is an enabler in every sphere of life. As a landlocked country,  many people in Uganda use road road transport. Traders rely on commercial trucks and commuter taxis to have their goods move from a point to another.

Currently 20 to30 percent of taxis especially in Kampala are parked while manufacturers are contemplating to either cut on production or completely suspend operation.

The Kalangala power supplier has started load shedding because of fuel prices. The cost of household commodities such as sugar, salt, soap and cooking oil increased long ago and we do not see an avenue of prices coming down. All these point towards the direction of a seemingly stillbirth of PDM.

For the last 10 years, Uganda has registered stability in monetary space. Credit facilities have been relatively affordable. Even when Covid-19 hit, banks remained stable and profitable. Stanbic Bank announced over   Shs275b as its profit after tax for year 2021. We all know 2021 was largely a lockdown year but such bank performance was and is a plus to BanK of Uganda as a regulator of monetary and fiscal space.  However, the increase in the Central Bank Rate  means another hill to climb, especially for borrowers.

Additionally, the cost of construction materials has gone up. Prices of cement and steel have increased by more than 60 percent in the last six months. If there is any sector that has seen growth in the recent past, it is the real estate. But the increase in prices of cement, steel, sand and stones is slowly affecting this sector. With  the above issues, why should one think that PDM would start from a good note?

The PDM programme sponsors and implementers should quickly run to the boardrooms to readjust their implementation timelines.  The government should engage an emergency gear to deal with food and fuel crisis.

The Ukraine-Russia war, which has been the scapegoat, cannot be the reason why we do not have food. For fuel, the argument can be understood, but for hunger in Karamoja , we need to find someone to hang on the cross.

Samson Tinka

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