Mitigate food insecurity – MPs tell gov’t

Members of Parliament have tasked government to put more effort in mitigating the current food insecurity situation in the country.

The MPs were responding to a joint statement on an action plan to mitigate the food security and disaster situation in the country presented to the House by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja (Kalungu East), and Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, Hon. Musa Ecweru (Amuria County) on Tuesday 22nd February, 2017.

The MPs found the plan inadequate to address the current food insecurity and water scarcity issues in the country.

Hon. Jacquiline Amongin (NRM, Ngora district) said that the Statement only provides a general solution to the entire country without special focus on areas that are badly hit.

"There areas like Teso and Karamoja that need extra attention by providing extra support in form of food supplies because people there have nothing to eat," she said.

Hon. Peter Ogwang (NRM, Usuk) added that government had not provided a solution that would take the people in these affected areas up to the rainy season.

"What will people eat for the next three months before the rains come, will the food supplies be enough to take those in badly affected areas up to the rainy season?" Ogwang asked.

Hon. Milly Mugeni (NRM, Butaleja district) further questioned the government on whether it had planned to store food before the rainy season eventually came.

"What about the storage of food to take us through the next three months before the rains come, what has the government done?" Mugeni said.

Mugeni added that the government needed to look out for the districts with issues of settlement.

"We have districts which have had a population surge arising from pastoralists searching for greener pastures. This has greatly affected the availability of food," she said.

Hon. Christine Kajungu Mutambi (NRM, Mbarara district) said that the government needs to find a solution to limit food exportation when the country is still faced with food insecurity.

"We, as a country, need to take a stand and control the food being exported. It will also help control food prices," Mutambi said.

Hon. Geoffrey Macho (NRM, Busia Municipality) supported Mutambi saying that Kenya was buying food from Uganda yet it had stopped exporting food.

"Major cereal traders are crossing into Uganda to buy cereals yet we cannot access irish potatoes from Kericho in Kenya," Macho said.

In a further submission, the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, questioned the Prime Minister on whether government had considered taking some measures to get foreign support to handle the current issue.

"We know that the situation is dire in the surrounding countries and that they have taken the initiative to seek foreign support. What is the stand of the government?" Oulanyah asked, adding that, "You as the government need to come out, take a stand and be definitive on this matter."

The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhankana Rugunda then responded saying that the government was fully aware of how stressed the population is in regard to food security.

"There isn't enough money but we are willing to make the necessary adjustments in the national budget to handle the issue. There has been a joint collaboration from countries like China giving support to solve the issue of food shortage and we believe that as time goes on we will get more support," the Prime Minister said.

Rugunda said that the Cabinet would meet on Thursday 23rd February, to discuss a way forward and to look at the issues raised by MPs in order to come up with a better solution for the food security, and further present it to Parliament.

The Joint Statement gave Strategic Policy Actions for the Food Security situation in Uganda categorized as immediate, short and medium/long-term at a cost of Ushs 8.475 trillion over the next four years.

Source: Parliament of Uganda