Uganda's expenditure on agriculture, at 2.8 per cent, is East Africa’s lowest but it could affect the sector’s productivity and in the long run put the country in a position where it cannot even feed itself, let alone have a surplus to export to the region.
In recent years, Uganda became a net exporter of food to the rest of East Africa, with maize, beans, soya bean, simsim, groundnuts and tea high on the list of foodstuffs exported to neighbouring countries, especially South Sudan and Kenya.
A World Bank report released on October 8 in Kampala, lists Burundi at the top with 9.7 per cent, close to the target set by the African Union under the comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme.
Rwanda spends an average of 5.3 per cent, compared with Kenya’s 5.7 per cent and Tanzania’s 3.9 per cent.
Other high spenders close to the AU recommended target are Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia at just below 10 per cent.
Some of these countries have been highlighted by the report as Uganda’s potential competitor for the East Africa’s food market.
Dr Fred Muhumuza a lecturer of Economics at Makerere University, said Uganda’s continued low investment in improving agricultural productivity is worrying.
Ladisy Komba Chengula, an agriculture economist with the World Bank, speaking at the launch of the report warned, “Uganda’s productivity at 2 per cent has over the years averaged less than the 3 per cent population growth rate. This means that in a short time Uganda will be unable to feed itself.”
The report recommends increased investment in the sector to improve production, marketing, extension work, better seed and input distribution, irrigation, application of fertilisers and improvement rural roads for easy access to farms and markets.