1986 to 2020 - Agriculture Starts to Truly Pick Up in Uganda Economic Recovery 1986-2020

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni assumed power in early 1986 after over throwing Tito Lutwa Okello. After seizing power in January 1986, the new NRM government published a political manifesto that had been drawn up when the NRM was an army of antigovernment rebels. Several points in the Ten-Point Program emphasized the importance of economic development, declaring that an independent, self-sustaining national economy was vital to protect Uganda’s interests. The manifesto also set out specific goals for achieving this self-sufficiency: diversifying agricultural exports and developing industries that used local raw materials to manufacture products necessary for development. The Ten-Point Program also set out other economic goals: to improve basic social services, such as water, health care, and housing; to improve literacy skills nationwide; to eliminate corruption, especially in government; to return expropriated land to its rightful Ugandan owners; to raise public-sector salaries; to strengthen regional ties and develop markets among East African nations; and to maintain a mixed economy combining private ownership with an active government sector.

The NRM government proposed a major Rehabilitation and Development Plan (RDP) for fiscal years (FY) 1987-88 through 1990-91, with IMF support; it then devalued the shilling and committed itself to budgetary restraint. The four-year plan set out primarily to stabilize the economy and promote economic growth. More specific goals were to reduce Uganda’s dependence on external assistance, diversify agricultural exports, and encourage the growth of the private sector through new credit policies. Setting these priorities helped improve Uganda’s credentials with international aid organizations and donor countries of the West, but in the first three years of Museveni’s rule, coffee production remained the only economic activity inside Uganda to display consistent growth and resilience. When coffee-producing nations failed to reach an agreement on prices for coffee exports in 1989, Uganda faced devastating losses in export earnings and sought increased international assistance to stave off economic collapse.

In the late 1980s, agriculture (in the monetary and nonmonetary economy) contributed about two-thirds of GDP, 95 percent of export revenues, and 40 percent of government revenues. Roughly 20 percent of regular wage earners worked in commercial agricultural enterprises, and an additional 60 percent of the work force earned some income from farming. Agricultural output was generated by about 2.2 million small-scale producers on farms with an average of 2.5 hectares of land. The 1987 RDP called for efforts both to increase production of traditional cash crops, including coffee, cotton, tea, and tobacco, and to promote the production of nontraditional agricultural exports, such as corn, beans, groundnuts (peanuts), soybeans, sesame seeds, and a variety of fruit and fruit products.

Over President Museveni`s 35-year reign on Uganda, Agriculture has been proven to have great potential to contribute to sustainable and broad-based economic development in Uganda. The fact that the majority of Ugandans derive their livelihoods from agriculture and that the country’s foreign exchange earnings are predominantly agriculture-based reflect the importance of the sector.

After the sector declined between 1971 and 1986, agriculture started to recover responding to new policies and increased stability in the country. Growth of agricultural GDP averaged 6 percent between 1989 – 1999 for monetary agriculture and 2 percent for non-monetary agriculture. Between 2000 and 2004 and these growth rates narrowed, with growth in monetary agriculture falling to 5 percent per year, and non-monetary agriculture rising to 3.5 percent per year. Within monetary agriculture, performance of the cash crops sub-sector has been volatile, averaging an annual growth rate of 9 percent from 1989-1999 and then just 3 percent from 2000-2004. The slowdown in cash crops is due mainly to the decline in export prices, particularly for coffee.

Growth in agricultural GDP has been achieved through expansion in the area cultivated. Yields per unit area have remained more or less constant except for cereals which increased by 34 percent between 1996 and 1999, but flattened out thereafter. This is due to a number of factors including: reliance on manual labour (which accentuates labour constraints and results in low areas cultivated); poor farm management, limited access to inputs and low technology adoption, and low crop diversification.

By 2020 GDP from Agriculture in Uganda had increased to 9715.32 UGX Billion by the third quarter of 2020.

Compared to other African countries, Uganda has progressively created an environment that supports economic and agricultural growth, and the reduction of poverty. However, rising poverty after 1999, its concentration among farmers, and slow economic growth mainly as a result of a weaker performance in agriculture, provide cautionary signals that these goals will not be achieved unless constraints to widespread agricultural growth are addressed.

Uganda`s resolve to turn the Agricultural Sector into a profitable sector for all Ugandan is reflected by the various project initiatives aimed at supporting local farmers and agriculturalists to establish and ran profitable agricultural ventures. Some of these initiatives include the National Agricultural Advisory (NAADs), Uganda Multi-Sector Food Security and Nutrition Initiative, National Oil Palm Project (NOPP), Banana Livelihood Diversification project (est. 2015) Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project (RPLRP) Meat Export Support Service Project Promotion of Rice Development Project among others.

Uganda’s main food crops are plantains/ bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, Irish Potatoes, millet, sorghum, corn, beans, peas and groundnuts. Major cash crops have been coffee, cotton, tea, cocoa, vanilla and tobacco, although to this day many farmers sell food crops to meet short-term expenses. Uganda also has a strong animal & fish industry that primarily focuses on Beef and Dairy Cattle, Fish, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Chicken and Ducks.

Uganda’s favorable soil conditions and climate have contributed to the country’s agricultural success. Most areas of Uganda have usually received plenty of rain. In some years, small areas of the southeast and southwest have averaged more than 150 millimeters per month. In the north, there is often a short dry season in December and January. Temperatures vary only a few degrees above or below 20° C but are moderated by differences in altitude. These conditions have allowed continuous cultivation in the south but only annual cropping in the north, and the driest northeastern corner of the country has supported only pastoralism. Although population growth has created pressures for land in a few areas, land shortages have been rare, and with the country`s level of investment into growing the Agricultural sector and vying for its industrialisation it is expected that by 2030, the sector will begin to be fully optimized by the country

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