Scaling up agro investments could help bridge inequality gap in EAC

Editor,  REFERENCE IS made to the article “New report shows alarming EAC inequality gap” published in The New Times issue of Wednesday, March 5.  
A past agriculture fair in Kigali. The majority of East Africans are employed in the agriculture sector. File.
A past agriculture fair in Kigali. The majority of East Africans are employed in the agriculture sector. File.

Editor, 

REFERENCE IS made to the article “New report shows alarming EAC inequality gap” published in The New Times issue of Wednesday, March 5.  

In the story, we have Rwanda’s delegate to the East African Legislative Assembly Patricia Hajabakiga delving into self-denial, which to me, she should not have done. Instead, let’s take the facts and work towards reversing the trend. 

My analysis is that we have the most highly paid civil servants in East Africa but also have the poorest and most unproductive farmers. This ultimately widens the gap between the rich and the poor. 

Kenya and Uganda have invested so much in the agriculture sector which employs more than 70 per cent of their population, while Rwanda has invested more in the services sector – which employs only about 5 per cent of the population. 

Horticulture in Uganda and Kenya has had tremendous impact on employment in farming, harvesting, storage, transportation, marketing, processing, packaging, export. 

How can we reduce the gap? Increase our budget for agriculture. 

Thank you.

James Munanura, Rwanda

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Editor, 

ALLOW ME to comment on the line of thinking by Mr. Munanura. So Uganda and Kenya have the best agricultural systems in East Africa? I don’t know about Kenya. However, on Uganda please go and do some more research.

Rwanda invests over 10 per cent of its national budget in agriculture. Uganda, which according to you has “invested so much”, spends only four per cent, way below what is recommended by CAADP. 

The extension system in Uganda is virtually non-existent. Initiatives such as NAADS, PMA etc, have not had the impact they were meant to have. 

Horticulture exports have nothing to do with the overall situation in the sector. Horticulture is mainly flowers grown on large-scale farms (hot houses) owned by rich investors.

Recent studies suggest Rwanda is doing better than you think.

Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, Uganda 

 

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