World Bank: Uganda must invest in agriculture

20 Jun 18

Uganda must transform its agricultural sector to drive economic growth and reduce poverty, the World Bank has said.

Agriculture in the East African country is facing several barriers to growth, such as declining productivity, the degradation of natural resources and high vulnerability to climate change, a report launched on Tuesday said.

The sector is also suffering because of poor agricultural practices, low technology adoption, insecurity over land ownership, poor access to extension services and a lack of credit for the country’s farmers, the bank said.

Christina Malmberg Calvo, World Bank country manager for Uganda, explained that the agriculture sector heavily depends on the weather.

She added that “farmers will not invest” their livelihoods in commercial agriculture as long as “poor-quality inputs dominate the market”.

“They need to be able to trust the distribution system and have tenure security and access to finance.”

“This require effective policies and regulations, and that politics steers clear of the agriculture sector”, she said.

The report urged for more policy action and investment in what it called the country’s ‘green gold’, which it suggested could transform the economy and lives of farmers.

Uganda’s agriculture is “the backbone” of the economy, employing 70% of the population and contributing to half of its export earnings and a quarter of its gross domestic product, the report said.

Especially in rural areas, boosting the agricultural sector can help reduce poverty by creating more jobs and boosting prosperity.

Involving the private sector to help provide the needed funds to farmers could also boost long-term growth, the World Bank said.

Holger Kray, head of the World Bank’s Africa Agriculture Policy Unit and the study leader, said: “A productive and climate-smart agriculture sector requires an effective enabling environment.

“Providing that environment is the role of the government. Uganda’s agriculture sector may not be transformed overnight but making the right adjustments now will be critical to realise the Vision 2040.”

Under the Vision 2040, Uganda hopes to transform the country from “a peasant to a modern” state.

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