Friday, May 9, 2008


Benchmarking Prof. Bukenya’s strategy in Rukungiri District;
Perspective from an eye witness

As NRM winds up two years in power since the last election, NRM leaders at all levels are grappling with questions from voters on the status of the ‘promise’. The key blue print/promise of the ruling NRM manifesto was ‘prosperity for all’ whose major objective is to empower every household in Uganda to meet its basic needs and earn an annual income of at least shillings 20 million per year. This aspiration was to be delivered through micro-policies and subsequent programs that would lift Ugandans to prosperity. In effect, this is NRM’s strategic move, to drive the country to a people owned affordable financial infrastructure. To many this is the Rolls-Royce of the Movement. It is the mothers’ milk for movementocracy. It will also be the litmus test for NRM’s re-election appeals in 2011. For the politicians where the scent of PFA is still elusive, questions are leaping skyward! The process for the conceptualization and laying of the PFA or Boonabagagawale (Luganda), lonyobotdanodocu (Luo) and Boonabagaigahare (Runyoro-kitara) implementation/ action strategy has been quite a protracted struggle that engaged everybody from the practicing farmer here in Rukungiri up to the Head of State. The strategy was finally launched by President Museveni himself on the 8th of October 2007. Its now time to move away from the Boonabagagawale as an aspiration to a reality. In other wards, it must now be touched and felt in people’s pockets. This simple raison d'être brings forward the concept of Boona-Bakole (let every body work) as an operational strategy towards the achievement of Boonabagagawale (wealth for all). To achieve this, leaders must do a lot in mobilizing the rural and urban citizenry along this aspiration and its operational strategy of hard work ethic as requisite software for realization of prosperity. This is important for marshaling the will of Ugandans to embrace and demand development. Henrik Ibsen, 1828-906 argued that “it’s not by spectacular achievements that man can be transformed, but by will. Where there is will, there is a way”. If all Ugandans come along to embrace this full fledged government effort to address the entire range of the value chain that encompasses production, micro-finance, marketing and processing then surely poverty will be sent to sleep.

In Rukungiri with the help of Professor Gilbert Bukenya we started on this process. His upland rice revolution took us by surprise. We are hoping that the roll out of this PFA strategy will backstop the exiting efforts and build on them; and the youth in Rukungiri here who must be at the core of this program are eagerly waiting.

For us here in Bwambara and Bugangari, Rukungiri district Professor Bukenya’s model amazed us because of its practicability. I must argue that Bukenya is not taken up by bookish fantasy of ideologies, concepts and complex models of bureaucrats and technocrat’s that are usually too complex but not configured to suit the reasonable basic needs of the household poor. Vice President Bukenya used hands on but rather smart formulae in his upland rice enterprise. He conducted practical studies of upland rice from his own Kakiri farm. After his pilot experiment, he broadcasted his workable findings/strategy to many districts. For Bwambara and Bugangari people it was very simple ‘Use one sack of nerica rice seed on one acre of land and you harvest seven bags’.
The Author( in a pull neck sweater) discussing farmers enterprises and forests at the mountain forestry university Boku Vienna Austria- feb 2008

Prof.Bukenya identified up land rice as a high yielding enterprise capable transforming rural poor household and I must confess that his rice revolution has changed the way of life of people here. The citizens of the said sub counties were hitherto tobacco farmers whose efforts reached the ebb with the pull out of British American Tobbaco Ltd (BAT). The Bwambarians and Bugangarians resorted to drinking alcohol as a way of life. Drinking would start at 8:00 am! Bukenya appeared to them like angel Gabriel and his scheme has changed their life completely. Currently rice is their white gold. Reaching Bugangari and Bwambara trading centers you definitely smell progress, people are very smart on Sunday, riding on new bicycles, motorcycles and few vehicles. Grass thatched hoses are now a fact of history. Many have started installing solar energy for lighting. Many have also bought plots of land in Rukungiri town council and have started building. Every body is amazed at how life can change very fast! Because of this empowerment, these rice entrepreneurs have set up their own SACCO in Bwambara, Kubumbu and Bugangari. The actors have procured for and by themselves rice hurling machines. In Rukungiri we are now debating to have a brand of ‘Bwambara rice- the white gold’, just like the Kibimba rice scheme I used to hear about. I love to joke that Bukenya Model provided us with Old Testament of PFA upon which New Testament. We say this because are optimistic that the long awaited policies to guide PFA will be purely hands on practical.

Leaders must always come up with practical models that suite people’s needs. If we move on like this, things will improve. I have not followed up other districts like Apac, Kamwenge, Kaberamaido, Nakasongora, Kayunga, Mpigi, Wakiso, Sembabule, Rakai and Masaka where this wonder rice scheme has been introduced. I am optimistic that things are okay. Of course there are still some challenges that came with this revolution in Rukungiri, notably parents removing their children from schools for days to chase birds from rice shambas, total lack of saving culture among our farmers and the June 2007 hailstorms that hit our districts. This reminds of the need to mainstream issues like sensitization on importance of saving and agriculture insurance among others.

Finally, to galvanize and insulate the Bwambara and Bugangari gains, government must deepen provision of its mandated common goods like law and order, security, health services, education, energy and road infrastructure. These public goods will provide the basic but highly needed software for incremental and sustainable blossom of PFA generated actions that address the entire range of the value chain amongst our people. This must also underpin coherence and harmony in the implementation of this PFA strategy where as accountability needs not to be emphasized. It is just a must. Are u ready to prosper?

Rwakakamba Morrison
Coffee farmer- Rukungiri

1 comment:

Sarah said...


Nice article,good job! and I am ready to prosper. The only big problem i see upon reading your blog is, we still have trouble sensitizing a few of our people about development,I am referring to those parents trying to stop their kids from going to school as opposed to bird watching. No way! they have to understand the essence of both economic and social development. Sensitization! sensitization!

Secondly i appreciate the efforts and practicability of our beloved VP to halt poverty
Long live Prof. Bukenya
Sarah Atuheirwe