Museveni says families getting out of poverty solves other problems

When President Yoweri Museveni decided to use a large part of his International Women's Day speech to talk about nomadism in post-colonial Uganda and commercial farming, he had an idea what many of his listeners were thinking.

"You may say, how does all this help the women? We came here for women and Museveni is talking about commercial farming, etc," he said.

That remark towards the conclusion of his speech got some chuckling on a hot Wednesday evening in Kiruhura district, where the national celebrations took place.

To be exact, the function happened at Kaaro High School in Sanga sub-county.

"The woman is part and parcel of the family and the society," said Museveni.

"When the families get out of poverty through commercial farming, manufacturing, services and ICT — the four sectors — it is easier to address all the other marginalised groups, including the women." From the word go, the President, accompanied by his wife and education minister Janet Museveni, made it clear how pleased he was to learn that Kiruhura district would host this year's national celebration of women.

He had a story to tell his audience.

As a young man, this is where their student group launched their anti-nomadism campaign in December 1966. They were partially supported by the now late Boniface Byanyima, who was the MP of the area at the time, the constituency then known as Ankole North East in the Legislative Council.

They moved from kraal to kraal and held public meetings "to educate people about the dangers of nomadism and the precapitalist traditional economy of only working for the stomach".

"Between 1966 and 1971, we concentrated on decampaigning nomadism that was based on the old ineffiecient science of the African societies," said Museveni.

The group laboured to convince the cattle keepers of that time to practice dairy farming as opposed to attempting to engage in ranching, which would require large pieces of land that they did not have.

Fast-forward to present day and the President was eager to show the watching world video footage of a selection of success stories from the fruits of his decades-old efforts in changing the mindset of the people in the cattle corridor to settle into dairy farming.

Short video clips broadcast on giant screens at the event's venue showed "progressive farmers" giving their testimonies of success in agriculture.

Museveni textured the rest of his remarks around these positive stories of farms, factories and homes in Kiruhura district, which is part of the cattle corridor that stretches all the way to Uganda's north and the northeast.

He said milk production in Uganda has increased from some 200 million litres per year decades ago to now 7.2 billion litres.

Milk collection, too has, improved "tremendously", with the number of players increasing from about 15 operators in 1986 (collecting only 400,000 litres annually) to now some 647 fully equipped milk collecting centres, with a total collection capacity of 3.2 million litres per day.

These are owned by dairy co-operatives, private individuals, companies and processors.

In the same spirit, Uganda's processing companies have increased from one (Dairy Corporation Ltd), procesing only 60,000 litres per day in 1986, to currently 145 companies, with a processing capacity of 2.8 million litres per day.

"These are employing mainly women and youths," said Museveni.

He said the Kiruhura-Kazo area today has 284 milk coolers and sells 1.4 million litres of milk per day, which translates to sh604b per annum.

As part of the transformation in Kiruhura, Museveni said "many of the homes have solar power and tap water from the roofs, and many families are educating their children in universities".

"I am very happy, that you, the women of Uganda, are here to witness this transformation I have been telling you about. The whole of the cattle corridor have got this message and have embraced it," he said. 'We cannot go wrong'

Museveni, who had earlier inspected the guard of honour and later watched the entertaining march past with the other guests, also talked about the four-acre idea of using land.

"In the 1996 NRM manifesto, we put in the four-acre model. This would get you to put coffee in one acre, fruits in the second acre, pasture for zero grazing in another and food crops in one acre.

"In the backyard, those interested could put poultry, piggery and those near water would do fish farming. These are activities that have got a huge global market that we have long ago confirmed and have a good return per acre per annum. With these, we cannot go wrong.

It is understood new crops like macadamia and cashew nuts are being analysed to see if they can be added in the four-acre model.

The model falls under intensive agriculture and by design, it is meant to benefit mostly the smallholder.

"There are other products that the country needs but do not fit in the intensive agriculture. They instead come in extensive agriculture — getting small income per acre but doing it on a big scale. This is where maize, sugarcane, cotton, ranching, tobacco, etc come in," said Museveni.

"While the parish development model (PDM) deals with the four-acre model, the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) will handle the extensive agriculture."

'Stop fragmenting wealth'

Meanwhile, the President said that many of the gains of his government's efforts in the cattle corridor are at a risk of being reversed "because you the leaders [of the area], you don't see for these people".

"The new war now is to the educate these ignorant people not to divide by physical division. [For instance a house]. Why don't you keep the property together and use the modern method of shares, whereby you share the profit that comes from the business?" he wondered.

To prevent a slide back into the poverty of old, Museveni urged the people of the cattle corridor on two things:

First: "Stop fragmenting wealth when the head of family dies. Share by emigabo (shares), not physical fragmentation".

Secondly: "Grow pasture and other foods such as maize, sorghum for the cattle. Do not just depend on what nature prepares. Use nature to do better for your family and for Uganda". 'Stop excuses'

This year's Women's Day national theme is 'Equal opportunities in education, science and technology for innovation' and the global one is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality'.

Museveni said getting more female scientists in Uganda requires "general transformation of the society".

"It is easier if the whole society comes up, gets out of the non-money economy into the money economy. Then you will be able to get more scientists, both men and women.

"So, talk holistically. Don't talk partially. You cannot maintain backwardness and somehow you get a few scientists and you think they will help the situation."

Museveni added: "Families getting out of poverty is a good base of solving other problems."

"In any case, the NRM government has got specific programmes for the [different] segments of the population: women, youths, disabled — catered for under the different funds, including PDM and Emyooga."

In his parting shot, the President assumed a tone of optimism as he rallied Ugandans to work their way out of poverty.

"To all Ugandans, stop excuses. It is possible to get out of poverty. The people in the cattle corridor had got out of poverty through the dairy industry guided by the NRM. They are now sliding back because of the residual culture backwardness. We are also fighting that. We can all get out of poverty."

Meanwhile, after his speech, Museveni handed over dummy cheques of funds from the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme, which is a revolving fund, to the districts that had applied for the money.

To be eligible for this round, these districts managed to recover the money they had previously received from the fund.

They are;

- Kiruhura (sh138.1m)

- Kamwenge district local government (sh121.3m)

- Kasese district (sh307.6m)

- Lwengo district local government (sh110.7m)

- Kasese municipality (sh111.6m)

- Ibanda municipality (sh73m)

- Kazo district local government (sh86.5m)

- Bushenyi district local government (sh123.1m)

- Ibanda district local government (sh181.6m)

- Mbarara district local government (sh158.4m).

The President also handed over land titles to beneficiaries present at the venue.

State lands minister Persis Namuganza said they had intended to hand over 1,481 land titles and asked those who did not make it to the event to receive theirs at the lands ministry zonal office in Mbarara city.

Sixty-three people received medals on the day: Order of the Nile, Order of the Crested Crane, Nalubaale, National Independence and Honorary Police.

Source: New Vision