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Presiden Museveni - Famine a Minor Issue

Published on Wednesday 22nd July 2009

Even as thousands continue starving in parts of Uganda, President Museveni has told countrymen not to worry too much about hunger or the drought, saying there are adequate alternatives to address the problem.

"People will not die of hunger because we have the resources to feed them. Let's not cry a lot about this," said the President while opening 17th Source of the Nile Agricultural and Trade Show in Jinja yesterday.

The President, who said much of the reported hunger in the country has come as a result of insufficient rains, described the problem as one of a minor nature.

He said people only need to be told the right things to do so that they cannot lack what to eat even during droughts. "As a farmer, besides your garden, you should do some poultry and livestock farming. When there is a drought and the crops are affected, you can sell a goat or some of your chicken and buy food," he said.

He said the drought reported in the eastern and northern part of the country has also affected other parts of the country including his own area of Rwakitura.

Famine has caused the death of scores of people in Teso sub-region and continues to cause havoc in other parts, according to reports.

Mr Museveni told the thousands of farmers at the exhibition that emphasis needs to be put on growing drought-resistant and quick maturing crops like potatoes, cassava, pumpkins, sorghum, cowpeas, or rearing chicken.

He said it is high time Ugandans adopted irrigation farming, giving an example of countries like Egypt that are in the desert, but have relied on the River Nile waters to farm.

"We have a lot of water in the lakes and rivers. That water is just the same as rainwater," he said, asking the Agricultural Ministry to devise means of getting farmers engage in micro irrigation.

The President said if the famine intensified, the government would divert funds allocated to other sectors like education, development of roads or energy sectors to feed the people.

He castigated the people engaged in environmental degradation like destroying forests or wetlands, saying they are the reason behind droughts like the one the country is facing today.

The President said the government is to give more agricultural loans to farmers through Saccos at a 10 per cent interest through its microfinance scheme.

The President of Uganda National Farmers Federation, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, called upon the government to work out modalities of implementation of the Shs30 billion recently allocated to the agricultural sector so that farmers get maximum benefit out of the fund.

The Agricultural Minister, Ms Hope Mwesigye, said the ministry wants to divide the country into 10 agricultural zones that will key out different regions according to their most viable agricultural projects to enhance agricultural output.

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