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World Bank tips Uganda on better agriculture practices

Sustainable land management and climate-smart agriculture could propel Uganda to achieve sustainable green-growth, but only if the Ugandan government invests aggressively in it, a World Bank report says.

The World Bank Economic Update for Uganda (UEU), a forecast that tackles how Uganda’s economy and people’s livelihoods are tied to sustainable use of the country’s resources, has encouraged Uganda to focus on green growth strategies to foster economic growth.

Titled, Uganda Economic Update: From Crisis to Green Resilient Growth: Investing in Sustainable Land Management and Climate Smart Agriculture, the 17th edition also recommends that macro-economic recovery and stimulus packages should be merged with structural and environmental issues.

Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda, appealed to Uganda to enhance sustainable use of its natural resource capital to get ahead in their quest for economic stability, calling the shocks caused by Covid-19 pandemic as a warning.

“Uganda needs to increase productivity and build resilience to enhance livelihoods, the economy and general well-being,” he said.

The World Food Programme’s annual country report for Uganda 2020, notes that the country had a range of shocks such as desert locusts and severe flooding, which, along with the coronavirus pandemic, derailed government efforts to provide food security to its citizens.

According to the Office of the Prime Minister, about 100,000 people were displaced by floods and needed both food and other types of assistance to survive. In order for Uganda to effect a recovery plan, the World Bank report puts emphasis on measures to address environmental and structural issues.

“As the country recovers from Covid-19-induced economic and social disruption, the challenge is to ensure better use of land, soil, water, and biodiversity resources, while restoring degraded resources and their ecosystem functions.”

It adds that there is a need for climate-smart agricultural practices that enhance resilience, reduce greenhouse gases emissions, and boost national food security. Sustainability of agricultural practices is what the UEU says Ugandans should concentrate most on.

“When jobs were lost and businesses closed due to the Covid-19 crisis, many people returned to agriculture and other natural-resource-dependent activities to mitigate and survive the crisis. This increased pressure on natural resources that were already strained by rapid population growth, urbanization, influx of refugees and the government’s industrialization drive.”

The report estimates that 41 per cent of Uganda’s land is degraded, contributing to economic vulnerabilities and poverty. This rate of degradation and soil erosion is unsustainable and costs about 17 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and derails any potential efforts that the government will put into pushing this climate-smart agriculture agenda.

Pushina Ng’andwe, a World Bank Senior Agriculture Economist, and co-author of the UEU, says Uganda needs to do more to protect its environment.

“The agricultural sector loses up to 27 per cent of its GDP due to environmental degradation. Furthermore, the country’s forest cover declines at 2.6 per cent annually, one of the highest rates of forest loss globally,” Ng’andwe said.

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