Local government leaders meeting in the western district of Hoima have resolved to pass by-laws to end food insecurity.
The leaders, who mostly hail from western Uganda, pledged to make it an offence, punishable by penalties and at worst detention, for anyone who fails to grow sufficient food in the region. Those targeted include idle youth or those involved in gambling.
The proposal triggered intense debate during the annual general meeting of western region Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA) held on January 24, 2013. ULGA's western Region Chairman Benon Karyaija said the by-laws would also prosecute any family head without crop gardens that suit the size of his family.
Karyaija, who is also the Mitooma district chairman, said daily gambling among youth had become a threat to food security.
"By-laws are necessary in our local governments because we have the most fertile soils in the country yet some families are still facing acute hunger because people are reluctant to work," he said.
The leaders also called for a concerted effort to fight pests and diseases including the Banana Bacteria Wilt (BBW), which is threatening to wipe out matooke.
ULGA President Peter Odok Wod Oceng said development could only be realized after eliminating idle youth.
"You should never expect developmental discussions in a community of hungry idle people. So, creating ordinances to improve production is the best way to go," he said.
"For me, I will be ready to coordinate with the central government to pass your by-laws," said Oceng who is also the district chairperson for Agago.
He said they can't wait for famine to strike yet they know what the problem is.