Headlines:

flickr facebook twitter digg stumbleupon feed

Policy Report on Agriculture in Uganda

This policy report on agriculture in Uganda from a cultural anthropological perspective historicises the formation of the political entity - the nation-state that is the Republic of Uganda and how its history shaped and continues to shape agriculture policy for the territory now known as Uganda. The report interrogates whether or not the actors in the overall landscape of the territory’s national policy framework for agriculture are characteristically the proverbial “blind leading the blind.”

Policy for the territory, in general, is often discussed in a manner that assumes that its population is homogenous.  Moreover, the territory has been occupied and claimed by different peoples. ‘Khosian-Ugandans’ are believed to have been the indigenous inhabitants of the territory. In the first millennium A.D. other African peoples, ‘African-Ugandans’ migrated from other parts of Africa into the territory, absorbing and replacing ‘Khosian-Ugandans’. In the late 1800s the English colonised the territory and appropriated territorial control from its prior inhabitants. 

Interaction of ‘African-Ugandan’ and English cultures produced within the territory ‘Westernised-Ugandans’ of two kinds. The ‘Westernised-Africanist’ has attained a high level of global-western education, is an intellectual and a defender of ‘African-Uganda’ culture. ‘Westernised-Recaptives’ hold a passionate belief in the superiority of global-western cultures and in the inferiority of ‘African-Uganda’ cultures. The interaction of ‘African-Ugandan’ and English cultures also produced within the territory the ‘Traditionalist-Ugandan’ who holds a passionate belief in the central logic of the culture of their ancestors; and is inclined to question global-westernisation, particularly cultural imperialism that elevates global-western culture as rationally superior to African-Ugandan culture.

In the context of agriculture within the territory, who knows what is best and whose way of knowing determines policy? The perspectives of different peoples of the territory can be generally grouped into two major categories: endogenous, of origin from the African continent; and exogenous, of origin from without the African continent. Endogenous knowledge includes that of ‘Khosian-Ugandans’ and ‘African-Ugandans’; and exogenous knowledge that of the English and of the global-west in general.  The two perspectives frame the discussions in this report.

English is recognised as the official language of the territory, meaning de facto that official policies for the territory are written and debated in English. Using the fact that English is the official language of the territory this report analyses power dynamics between exogenous and endogenous knowledge. Who in the territory knows English and who doesn’t? How does knowing English impact on one’s enjoyment or not of their right to be heard and to be provided for? Does the English contained in policy documents for the territory inspire confidence or not in those documents? Does the English contained in policy documents inspire confidence or not in the competence of the authors of those documents? Who are the authors of those documents? Are the authors sufficiently knowledgeable about the territory or not?

Different shades of the prevailing acculturated versions of endogenous knowledge are ensured in the report through detailed case studies of two ‘African-Ugandan’ cultures - the Iteso representing sedentary farming communities and the Karimojong representing pastoralist communities. The experiences and interactions of the Iteso and the Karimojong with national policy frameworks of the territory are used to exemplify and to describe how agriculture policy for the territory is based on factoids, unreliable information reported as fact; and how it is inconsistent.

The report finds that factoids impair agriculture policy for the territory. The impact of factoids in agriculture policy, such as, the mal-description of smallholder farmers as being peasant farmers or as being subsistence farmers is discussed in the report. The report analyses the effects on policy of the tendency to deliberately promote perspectives such as:  denigration of the handheld hoe; ‘African-Ugandan’ knowledge is inferior and backward; and global-western knowledge is superior.

The report finds significant inconsistencies in the design and in the application of agriculture policy for and in the territory. Whereas, it is recognised that poor extension services are the underlying cause of food and nutrition insecurity in the territory; poor and insufficient extension services provision prevails. Insufficient extension service provision is believed to be a result of the many changes in the manner that public extension services provision for the territory has been handled during the last 20 years or so.

The ratio of agricultural extension workers to smallholder farmers in the territory is as high as 1:5,000, meaning the number of extension workers is too few. Exacerbating the situation further is the fact that the few deployed extension workers in some cases are inappropriately skilled, mostly familiar with only ‘book knowledge’ and with insufficient knowledge from experiential learning, the report finds. The few who are deployed, furthermore, are not necessarily well facilitated to do the work that they are deployed to do, due to consistent insufficient budget allocations; and the report discusses the association between the status quo and the state of food insecurity in the territory.

Focus on commercialisation of food is another inconsistency within the territory’s agriculture policy, the report finds, particularly so the logic which allows for food exports, while millions of citizens are food insecure.  Commercialisation of food provides justification for land grabbing – pushing people off their land or enslaving them on their own land; thus it pushes smallholder farmers deeper into food and nutrition insecurity and poverty; which link the report explores.  

Land grabbing is also a symptom of another inconsistency within agriculture policy; and it is discussed in the report; which concludes that it, in effect, demonstrates collusion by the leadership of the territory in perpetuating economic neo-colonialism by promoting and glorifying the ‘donor’ driven destructive ‘myth of development.’

Using the examples of the Karimojong and the Iteso, the report demonstrates how ‘African-Ugandan’ food systems are resilient and, moreover, possess a lot of untapped potential. Paradoxically, the ‘development interventions’ that come under the guise of ‘modernisation’ receive preferential treatment within agriculture policy of the territory, and yet such ‘modernisation’ interventions are weapons of mass destruction – contributing to the ethnocide of ‘African-Ugandan’ food systems, the report finds.

Read the full report here.