I am a concerned citizen who always travels across borders, but has failed to see the benefits of the East African Community.
Recently, I travelled to watch the 2018 Safari Rally in Kenya in which Uganda sent two representatives (Jas Mangat and Duncan Mubiru).
However, Ugandans were treated as if we were from another planet. From the border to all the rally sections, the moment Kenyan traffic police officers saw Ugandan-registered number plates; they would stop and hold you until you gave them money.
They asked between KShs 500 [approximately Shs 16,000] and KShs 2,000 [approximately Shs 64,000]. I was personally stopped seven times; and on the eighth one, I complained and tried to
They immediately took me to their express court where I was fined KShs 15,000 (about Shs 480,000). At the road block where they arrested me, I had all they asked for but one officer told me my vehicle was dirty!
It had been raining from the time I left Jinja to Nairobi. Funny enough, when I reached the court, they changed the statement and said I did not have a safety reflector triangle.
I hope EALA MPs, the minister of East African Community Affairs and respective embassies can look into this matter; otherwise, we are losing hope in the EAC.
Keith Ssali Isaac,
Deputy mayor, Nansana municipality.
Ochola has started on a positive note
Since the new inspector general of police, Martin Okoth Ochola, took over the mantle, changes have been made within the force. Of particular interest is the merger of various departments.
Two directorates and at least fifteen units that were previously reporting directly to the IGP’s office were merged, and their command decentralized to three directorates.
This move will not only return police to its original constitutional duties and obligations, but also cut operational costs.
Given its constitutional mandate of maintaining law and order, police cannot succeed without society’s trust and confidence. We also believe with time, the new leadership will consider strengthening community liaison services and corporate social responsibility activities to increase community participation in helping police to maintain law and order.
Lack of public respect, trust and confidence is one of the reasons there have been unanswered questions regarding criminal gang activities in the country. I believe the new leadership can harness community involvement.
Ugandans need water harvesting lessons
Last year, almost all parts of the country experienced a severe drought that affected people’s lives, crops and livestock. Now that God is abundantly giving us rain, farming activities are ongoing and we expect food surplus.
Although farmers are smiling today, those who are building and mining in wetlands, and cutting forests are still active. There is need to prepare for the next drought when the rains stop.
This is the time for the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to wake up and think about measures to conserve for agricultural use. This can be done through sensitizing citizens about how to harvest water during rainy seasons.
Input distribution alone cannot trigger agricultural productivity
Uganda has experienced low agricultural productivity for decades. This is partially due to low application of improved inputs.
Given the importance of improved agricultural technologies in addressing low productivity, government prioritized various initiatives to drive the economy to lower middle-income status by 2020.
Notable is the input distribution programme under Operation Wealth Creation (OWC). Since its inception in 2013, OWC has received exponentially growing budget allocations to intensify improved inputs use among farmers.
In the current financial year, input provision implemented by OWC was allocated Shs 316 billion – 37 per cent of the agricultural sector budget. According to the medium-term expenditure framework 2018/19-2020/21, allocations to OWC are projected to increase to Shs 588 billion by 2020.
It is evident government is emphasizing input distribution as a pathway to increase agricultural productivity over the next five years.
However, earmarking more resources for input distribution does not necessarily guarantee that farmers have received all the accompanying services to trigger the projected middle-income status.
OWC is commended for the efforts towards distribution of seed and seedlings. Through OWC, the government has registered popularity at district and household levels with a notable increment in the number of supported farmers from 717,515 in 2015 to 822,417 in 2016.
However, the problem with this arrangement is the unavailability of complementary agricultural services to accompany the provided inputs.
According to the financial year 2017/18 background to the budget, various planting materials were procured and distributed during 2016/17 cropping seasons.
These included; 2,485 tonnes of maize seed to 993,956 households, 1,040 tonnes of bean seed to 104,000 households, 10 tons of rice seed and 432,220 apple seedlings to 4,322 households, among others. No fertilizer and agro-chemicals were provided.
Providing only planting materials shows the government has not yet settled on a master plan for complementary agricultural services to achieve the target of improving productivity by 2020. If the trend continues as observed, it will deter the sector further from achieving the projected middle-income status.
However, to achieve a successful agricultural transformation by 2020, policies regarding input distribution should be reviewed. Increasing agricultural productivity requires a combination of matching inputs (fertilizer, agrochemicals, extension and irrigation).
According to a study by Economic Policy Research Center, the use of quality seed with fertilizer in Irish potatoes produces a yield of 16.5 metric tonnes per hectare as compared to 11.1 metric tonnes when only quality seed is used.
Thus, better outcomes from improved agricultural technologies are expected when it is taken as a package of complementary inputs.
Research analyst, Economic Policy Research Centre.