MAY 4, 2010: Government Now Plans to Intervene in the Economy

Government Now Plans to Intervene in the Economy
SOURCE: The Independent (Kampala)
By Dicta Asiimwe

As a result of all this the agricultural sector which still employs 73 percent has been continuously declining. It grew by only 0.1 percent in 2006/2007 from 7.9 percent in 2000/2001. The drafters of the new plan realised that agriculture needed more attention from the government if the welfare of the population was to be improved. The sector contributed only 24 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008. This emphasises the inequality in both income and production for Ugandans.

The National Planning Authority (NPA) which drafted the report said government needed to focus more resources on agriculture as improvement of the agriculture sector would significantly reduce the number of people below the poverty line to 17.9 percent by 2015. Currently, 31 percent of Ugandans live under the poverty line.

According to the NPA, the poor performance of the agricultural sector has been as a result of a weak policy, legal and regulatory framework. It says policies have been developed for the sector but the implementation has not been consistent with specific government programs which they say has led to uncoordinated intervention.

They added that the sector faces high risks and the cost of investment necessary to cause transformation of agriculture into commercial production requires significant capital which is beyond the capacity of the communities involved in agriculture.

The NPA also blamed the lack of enough human resource, extension staff and the limited availability of improved seeds, fertilizers, irrigation equipment and machines for planting and harvesting. The plan proposed to increase production in agriculture by improving technology in the sector, ensuring delivery of advisory services, controlling diseases and increase of water supply for irrigation, livestock and aquaculture and encouraging effective land use.

As a result of rapid population growth, the country is quickly urbanising without proper planning. The towns are turning into slums. The plan is asks the government to provide appropriate policy, legal and regulatory framework since the sector is largely in the hands of the private sector.

The NPA has also set a target to combat the rapidly increasing effects of environmental degradation. The NPA said if this report's objectives, strategies and interventions were followed; the forest cover in Uganda would increase from the current 3,604 hectares to 4,933,746 by 2015. The interventions they said are reforestation and afforestation, having well maintained plants along and around public infrastructure, promotion of commercial tree planting on private land, restoration of degraded natural forests and protection of permanent forest estates.

The plan proposed to increase the oil and gas exploration so that the reserves in the country would be 2 billion barrels of oil. The plan looked at the sector to contribute to the Shs 54 trillion required to implement the new development plan.