The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Land Fragmentation Is Recipe for Poverty

editorial

President Museveni has for some time now been leading a virtually lone campaign against land fragmentation across the country.

He repeated the message while in Kazo, Kiruhura district, on New Year eve. Although as President he is in a good position to do more than talk about it, we feel that his message deserves augmentation, nevertheless. Ordinarily, this should be something obvious to all, but it is not. With Uganda's population growing very fast, there is unprecedented pressure on land.

Given that there are nearly no industries to provide jobs to the youth, and the large population needs food to eat, land will continue to become an indispensable source of livelihood for Ugandans for some time. But land can only be productive if it is commercially viable. And it can only be commercially viable if it's a sizeable chunk. The smaller the piece of land, the less viable it is. Smaller pieces not only make it harder to use in money-making ventures but also constitutes a threat to food security.

It, therefore, goes without saying that land fragmentation is counterproductive. The practice in many areas currently is such that a man who owns two acres of land and six sons will split the land into six pieces, one for each son. However, an economic activity that could viably be done on two acres can't necessarily be replicated on the smaller pieces after the division.

The President's simple message is, don't divide the land; divide what comes out of it. It would indeed be cleverer for the siblings to organise themselves and use the land jointly, sharing the proceeds. Where it is practical, a family company could be formed to manage joint economic activity. Leaders at all levels need to get the people to appreciate the logic of consolidating land.

It has nothing to do with politics and neither is it rocket science. Above all, parents have got to plan for their families. A poor household which 'invests' in ten children is clearly multiplying poverty.

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