If agriculture is improved alongside tourism and the mineral sector it would generate enough momentum to propel Uganda to middle income status by 2020, UN Agencies have advised government.
Speaking at a high level policy dialogue on ‘Agricultural transformation in Uganda’, UNDP country director Almaz Gebru, said in order for Uganda to achieve the new sustainable development goals it doesn’t only need to localise them but also find innovate ways of bringing on board the majority poor whose mainstay is agriculture.
She said the best way of helping the poor majority, is, by revitalising agricultural cooperatives at national and local governments level which will in turn harness the country’s agricultural potential.
She further said cooperatives have the potential of not only reducing poverty among the poor but also generating employment, boosting food security and nutrition and promoting gender equality among other benefits.
The same calls were echoed by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) country representative, Alhaji Jallow who said strong cooperatives and producer organisations can reduce challenges of food insecurity and higher prices.
Jallow called for the establishment of an enabling environment that allows small producers to take full advantage of agricultural services than can best be provided by and through cooperatives.
In her remarks, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde said a revitalised agricultural movement will strengthen Uganda’s comparative advantage in food production, value addition and exports in the region and even the continent.
Kyambadde said the collapse of the cooperative movement demoralised most Ugandans hence the need to rebuild their confidence. The minister revealed that to date there are 16,038 cooperatives operating in Uganda. Of these 6,152 are savings and credit cooperatives and 5,221 are agricultural marketing cooperatives.
The cooperative movement in Uganda started in the 1930s but started weakening through the 1970s and 1980s, before going down in the late 1990s especially with the collapse of the Cooperative Bank.