By Patrick Nakabale
With soldiers talking seeds and plants instead of guns and bombs, the prosperity gospel is made easier
Recently, I was privileged to participate in activities of wealth-creation and prosperity through agriculture in Kakiri town council and surrounding areas. We have been involved in activities of agricultural expansion and value-addition for sometime.
Kakiri is peri-urban and situated about 20kms on the Kampala-Hoima road. Proximity to the city of Kampala brightens prospects for hardworking residents to transform the place into a city in its own right. Tremendous opportunity is still available for construction and large scale farming. The highway leading from Kampala through Kakiri to Kiboga on to Hoima provides an endless stream of commuters who daily make stop-overs to do shopping or to relax. With the looming oil boom, Kakiri has a lot going for it. Industrialists and service providers linked to the sector will require lots of foodstuffs and places of recreation which they will have to find in Hoima and all the way to Kampala.
The people of Kakiri are, therefore, being prepared to harness the market occasioned by the oil industry in a big way.
This time our programmes for agricultural m odernisation were boosted by the presence of the CDF, Gen. Katumba Wamala, who committed a day to traverse the area, from the town centre to the rural edges- Masuulita and Namayumba. Gen. Wamala’s visit re-enforced the morale of the locals who have previously worked on the spirit of mere survival at household level. With the topmost soldier in the country turning up and not talking guns and bombs, but seeds and plants, the prosperity gospel was made easier to absorb and very reassuring. Why?
Kakiri lies within the Luweero triangle. It saw some of the deadliest fighting when the NRA rebels were battling the former despotic government. Many lives were lost and property destroyed. This partly explains why the place has not developed quickly enough in spite of being near Kampala. There was too much destruction in the past and many people fled. When the war ended, resettlement and reconstruction started and has been ongoing.
The headquarters of the first division are right before Kakiri town from the Kampala side. Soldiers are a common sight. Hitherto, they have been into security matters only. Gen. Katumba’s visit came at a time the leadership under Commander-in-chief, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, has indicated renewed commitment to enhance Uganda’s economic backbone; agriculture, by deploying the army to apply their dedication and speed to help transform the sector. This is possible because there is total peace in the country. Guns are now substituted with hoes and bullets with seeds.
CDF Katumba Wamala toured the place, meeting wanainchi. He listened to their issues and experienced first hand some of the limitations on the ground which have to be addressed concurrently with promoting increased production. For example, it has been raining torrentially of recent and the murram roads have taken a severe battering. They have developed ditches, are slippery and when the rains cease, dust takes over. I indeed thank the good General for practically testifying by perseverance that he is a general of all seasons!
Of course government has rolled out an infrastructure programme taking care of all types of roads. Resources cannot permit working on all of them at ago. Feeder roads tend to keep on the waiting list. However, when an area is productive, government has no choice but to prioritise the infrastructure there such that farmers and residents find transportation of their produce convenient and affordable. Already, the quantity of produce being raised in the area is commendable but the potential to become a food basket of outlying areas and beyond is very high.
We already have a processing factory taking care of grains like maize, millet, sorghum and seeds such as beans, groundnuts and soya beans. This will be expanded because demand is high. Famers already have an association through which they share capital and technical advice. President Museveni also visited late last year and encouraged residents to make use of the peace and land resource to eject poverty from their homes and to become investors. Gen. Katumba found the people already organised and ready to take on the challenge and the wisdom he imparted in them.
With the wanainchi willing to put into action what the leadership preaches, Uganda as a whole stands to benefit and surpass development projections.
While other countries waddle with uncertainty in leadership and lack of focus, Uganda can take advantage of the regional open market and inundate it with our local goods. When oil begins to flow, we shall be ready to merge all the industries to achieve take-off and objectives contained in Vision 2040 and other targets.
The decision to “hire” military personnel was not taken without thought but on the basis of the transformation that had taken place within the institution and the excellent working relationship with civilians. Although it’s true there was gross mismanagement of programmes meant to empower communities inline with NRM’s Prosperity-For-All mission, reversion to soldiers is not to say civilians cannot deliver efficiently. Instead, they will work together to make the country self-reliant, secure, and an agriculture power house.
Kakiri area is ready to be a pilot for a closer working relationship for the army and civilians to take agricultural production to another level.
Patrick Nakabale is the Youth MP for Central Region.