9 April 2019

Uganda: Prepare for Famine, Government Tells Ugandans

Photo: So-and-So/IRIN
(file photo).

Kampala — The government has warned of impending famine in most parts of the country, cautioning traders to limit food exports and families to start food rationing.

Mr Christopher Kibanzanga, the State minister for Agriculture, issued the warning in an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday.

He attributed the looming famine to the delayed rain and drought that has stretched beyond March into April resulting in crop failure.

"We are certainly not going to have enough food. Our appeal to farmers is not to take everything to the market," Mr Kibanzanga said.

"Traders should take [sell] food to areas like eastern Uganda, northern Uganda and Karamoja sub-region which do not have food," he added.

Mr Kibanzanga said government will support mini and large scale irrigation schemes across the country to minimise over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture as it is done currently.

At the beginning of March, the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA), the government agency for weather forecast, predicted that most parts of the country would receive plenty of rainfall. They said farmers were free to start planting their crops.

The forecast followed some occasional showers that enticed farmers to start planting crops, but the skies soon dried up and crops wilted under the scorching sunshine.

Mr Festus Luboyera, the UNMA executive director, later issued a statement attributing the current dry spell conditions to the tropical cyclone which last month ravaged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Madagascar and left an estimated 1,000 people dead.

"The cyclone led to the development of low pressure system around the Mozambique channel which resulted in the weakening of southeasterly trade winds. These winds became diverted towards the channel, depriving moisture laden winds to reach our country which is why we have experienced the dry spells," Mr Luboyera said in a statement.

Ms Agnes Kirabo, the executive director of Food Rights Alliance, a civil society organisation, said government should be blamed for failing to store produce of the previous season.

"There was a dramatic bumper harvest but most of the grain, which would have been used in this bad season was wasted," she said.

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