Introduction: How may one appreciate what is considered rural and urban in Uganda? This is the question that I attempt to answer in this analysis. I do so by using, as an example, Teso - the area (Teso - Uganda Maps 2016), which is in Eastern Uganda and Iteso - the people; from whom am descended. Since the main synthesis paper to which this analysis contributes is on smallholder farmers and is on agriculture, I particularly use the example of the food system of my people and the changes that have occurred in it. I am assisted in this by the book: The Iteso (Lawrance 1957), from which I borrow significantly.
Norah Owaraga wrote this short paper on request and sponsorship of the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for presentation at the 15th Public Economic Forum that was held at Protea Hotel, Kampala on 5th May 2016. The theme of the forum was: “Rethinking the land question, food security and agricultural transformation in Uganda.” This paper was specifically requested as a response to the forum’s session on “land tenure, access to land, and food security in Uganda.”
Whereas a hoe is among the symbols in the emblem of the Democratic Party (DP) of Uganda, during Uganda’s presidential elections of 2016, the hoe was catapulted into mainstream national political debate by the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement Organisation (NRMO). Presidential Candidate and also the President of Uganda, His Excellency President Yoweri Kagutta Museveni, pledged and fulfilled his pledge of distributing 18 million hoes countrywide. He argued that hoes would boost food security and incomes for small land owners and would gradually transform Uganda from an agrarian to an industrial economy by 2040. With the retail price of a hoe standing at 10 thousand shillings per piece, 18 million hoes would cost 180 billion shillings, which is about 30 per cent of Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries budget for Uganda’s fiscal year ending June 2016. (Source: Daily Monitor). Other analysts, however, priced a hoe at 25 thousand shillings per piece and therefore estimated the NRM’s hoe project to cost 450 billion shillings.
There is the tendency in Uganda for people to point fingers and say “those people at the centre.” You will recall, with all its weaknesses Uganda’s decentralised system was the best system ever. I am meant to understand that other countries in our neighbourhood have actually borrowed our perfect on paper decentralised system. The decentralised system was genuinely giving planning responsibility to come all the way from the grassroots to the centre – a bottom up approach. And I remember Uganda was celebrated. That time even civil society organisations were organised. It was like a village council will first plan, then it is taken to sub-county, then it is taken to the district, and from the district is where it is brought to the centre. But in the current system, the district administrations have been thoroughly disempowered – through taxation first of all. The removal of graduated tax and the insistence of the Government of Uganda (GoU) to use indirect taxes is a problem, because the indirect taxes are not felt by the general population.