KAMPALA: President Yoweri Museveni has said the people of Busoga need to be liberated from sugar cane growing to other ventures outlined under the parish development model if they are to get out of poverty.
According to the President, although the Parish Development Model (PDM) is intended to scale up government efforts to support the homesteads in subsistence farming to commercialize, create wealth and gainful employment, and raise household incomes, people in Busoga are likely to remain poor since many have been enslaved and given away their chunks of land for sugar cane growing. He says this needs to change.
The president made the remarks as he addressed members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party at State House Entebbe on Friday.
Despite having the largest sugarcane milling capacity at 35%, followed by Central Uganda at 27%, Western at 26% and Northern Uganda at 12%, Busoga residents still continue to dwell in poverty. Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2020 figures show that Busoga has 1.2 million poor persons of which 0.4 million are living in food poverty.
According to a number of publications, observations, and studies like “Rethinking Sugarcane Governance Structures To Better Address Rural Poverty And Food Insecurity” by Dr. Swaibu Mbowa, a senior research fellow, at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), Busoga continues to drown in poverty despite increase in sugarcane production.
Mbowa noted that in the 70s, the country had only three mills – Kakira, Kinyara, and Lugazi but right now, there are about 33 licensed mills and this has come with expansion in processing capacity and employment opportunities.
Despite the outstanding growth in the number of millers, sugarcane farmers have not seen much improvement in their livelihoods because several Busoga landowners converted their land into sugarcane plantations instead of planting food crops.
Over the years, many have tried to find a solid solution to the persistent poverty situation in Busoga. However, little progress has been made, hence the urgent need to liberate Busoga from sugar cane growing as government prepares to rollout the Parish Development Model.