WAKISO – Dr. Frank Nabwiso – former Vice Chancellor – Busoga University is so reversed about the development significance that the sugarcane growing and Parish Development Model can play in the Busoga Sub Region.
Dr. Nabwiso was on Monday speaking to the Busoga youths during the Busoga Spotlight organized by Gudie Leisure Farm (GLF). The spotlight intended to unveil the region’s untapped wealth of business opportunities and cultural riches.
He noted that Busoga has been heavily involved in sugarcane growing for about 95 years but the area has remained below the poverty line.
“Even people with small plots of land are growing sugarcane but it is a business which will never bring wealth in Busoga.”
According to him, a kilogram of sugarcane is sold at only shs240, which makes it the cheapest cash crop in Uganda.
“It means that when a parent wants to buy a pen of shs700 for their child, they’ll have to sell 3 kilograms of sugarcane, to me that’s very unfair.”
However, this is contested by Gudie Agent – Ms. Rhona Ngobi who says “We are wrong to say that sugarcane has brought poverty to Busoga, we have not exploited what else can we get from sugarcane [like] sweet industry, biogas electricity and many more.”
On the Parish Development Model, Dr. Nabwiso challenges that “If you put the money into the hands of the individuals and you think they will do successful businesses, it may not happen. These individuals know that this is Government money, they may not bother and they need skills even to operate small businesses.”
He also decried the culture that has always encouraged polygamy thus the high population growth rate and over-dependence.
“Polygamy has attracted Islam since it is accepted by the Quran to marry up to 4 wives but the consequence is that you will inevitably produce so many children which you cannot take care of.”
Dr. Nabwiso, wants the government to investigate the money invested in Busoga Growers Cooperative Union recovery. He claims that although the government tried to revive it with about 16.5 billion shillings, the money has been eaten by the leadership of the Union [and] “I have not seen the audited accounts concerning the matter.”
He noted that the Union was harnessing ordinary peasants into economic activities, and by stopping functioning, farmers would not come together. “When you compare Busoga with Bugisu Cooperative Union, you see a very huge difference.”
“Today, Busoga is importing food from Ankole. This has to be readjusted, the people of Busoga have to produce food for themselves first (because) you can’t be rich when you don’t have enough food, that’s a hopeless economy,” he added.
Ms. Rachel Magoola, Chairperson, Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Creative Industries called for the investment in the ability for people in the village to become productive because as a key in the development of the country.
She noted that although the Government has introduced Programmes like PDM, youth livelihood, and women empowerment, there is still a challenge of mindset change.
“For example, when the PDM money was distributed in my district, the shopkeepers were so happy because people did not invest in agricultural activities at home but they bought materials like mattresses. We need to improve on the training of the people before they receive money.”
Prof. Gudula Naiga Basaza, Founder and Managing Director of GLF said “Busoga Region is rich in potential and opportunities that are yet to be fully explored. This event is not only a celebration of the region’s rich cultural heritage but also a gateway to discovering the wealth that lies in our region.”
She revealed that in the region, they were able to incubate 108 youths who went back and trained their fellows in school (over 2000) and out of school (10800) who are now involved in the white meat value chain.
Prof. Gudula decried poor farming methods as a key challenge for most farmers in the region.
“Most of the farming is using the hand hoe which limits how much they can earn.”
She also noted that much as the region is endowed with water bodies, the region is not practicing irrigation.
“There’s what we call starving in the granary, the region has everything that it requires to grow but it’s not put to full potential, reason why we are inviting the people to come and partner with them for mutual benefit.”
She urged the people of Busoga to employ modern farming technics in order to improve productivity.