FAO’s Country representative, Alhaji M. Jallow, made these remarks while speaking during the launch of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) at hotel Africana on Friday, where he emphasised that rural family farmers are part of the solution to a world free of hunger.
The year 2014 was declared as such by the United Nations General Assembly; with the aim of stimulating active policies for sustainable development of agricultural systems-based farmer families, communal units, indigenous groups, cooperatives and fishing families.
Jallow noted that while over 70% of primary agriculture, which is the country’s biggest employer, is being carried out by rural farmers; these people’s efforts are being curtailed by immense challenges, key among which is lack of access to land.
“The lack of an appropriate land reform policy to regulate the widely disintegrated ownership structure has exacerbated the matter often times resulting in gruesome battles and bloodshed,” Jallow noted.
This comes at a time when residents in Kasokoso, a city suburb have been battling officials from Uganda National Housing and Construction Company who they accused of trying to grab their ‘ancestral land’.
President Yoweri Museveni, through his no-nonsense Lands minister, Aidah Nantaba, has tried without much success to mitigate some of the fierce wrangles emerging from land ownership all over the country.
Jallow pointed out that time has come for government to venture into finding a solution to such problems, to ensure a sustainable food security in the country and region.
“When an appropriate environment is availed by government, through sorting such challenges as access to land, ineffective technologies and market access, these people’s effectiveness in ensuring food security has already been proven,” he said.
He also observed that the effort behind the International Year of Family Farming was made from the perspective of effectively combating poverty and hunger and the search for a rural development based on the respect for environment and biodiversity.
Speaking at the same event, Hon Tress Bucyanayandi, the minister of Agriculture, described the UN move as being ‘on spot’ and immensely relevant to a country like Uganda whose economic structure principally depends on agriculture which accounts for over 70% of the country’s incomes yet it is being supported mainly by rural women and children.
“The remaining 30% in the commercial sector at this moment do not require as much attention as our peasantry household farmers. These are the key drivers of our transformation and they deserve to be appreciated,” Bucyanayandi said.
Ugandan Agriculture Minister Tress Bucyanayandi
Bucyanayandi further noted Land ownership and other impending challenges facing rural farmers like mass migration of youths to urban centers, lack of improved seeds, implements and technology were what government is currently concentrating on to alleviate, as the country moves closer in the direction of Vision 2040.