Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What I told African Water Ministers and The Prince of Orange during the 8 to 13th Nov 2009 2nd Africa Water Week in Midrand

I was nominated by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) and invited by the African Development Bank to present a paper entitled; Fundamental Financing Areas Necessary to achieve Food and Energy security in Africa: Farmers Perspective, at the 2nd Africa water week at Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa from 8th to 13th December 2009. This continental meeting was convened by Africa Ministers Conference on Water (AMCOW) and the Government of the Republic of South Africa in Partnership with various United Nations Agencies. The key themes discussed were specific; Financing for water and Sanitation Infrastructure, Managing Africa’s transboundary waters, Climate change and water adaptation and Closing the Sanitation Gap. This Water meeting brought together 700 dignitaries from all over the world, 40 Ministers from different African Countries, The Prince of Orange, Willem Alexander Ferdinand and Hon. Emmanuel Trevor, who represented President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa. Trevor pulled three memorable lines while tackling water and energy security issues on the continent in his premier address to the meeting, i.e.; that energy has alternatives while water has none; he continued; Water is Life and Sanitation is dignity and concluded that with out water, there is no Agriculture. The foregoing lines, I believe, are principle benchmarks that ongoing global debates and national plans on energy, water and food security should be anchored. As for me, my speech was meant to flag farmers issues on the Agenda, and echo areas that must be financed if farmers have to continue feeding the bulging population on the Continent (Africa’s population growth is at 2.4 percent per annum, meaning that every day, there are more mouths to feed on the continent every year), Ministers and delegates were attentive;

I told them that, agriculture, which produces multiple services from food, feed, fuel and fibre, is essentially dependant on water as one of its key strategic resources. Yet water availability and access, like never before is under severe stress due to climate change and other man made environmental degradation tendencies on the continent. I reminded the audience that 95% of the food in Sub-Saharan Africa is grown under rain fed agriculture (call it nature based) and on average, 7% of Sub-Sahara Africans are employed by agriculture. It was important to point out a new recognition viewed through initiatives on the continent that aim at financing agriculture sector like the Maputo Declaration and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) where many African Countries committed to the principle of agriculture-led growth as a main strategy though in practice is still a feigned standpoint in many African countries.

I argued in my speech that the fundamental role of agriculture is to ensure food security for consumers and secure livelihoods for producers. Therefore, African Governments and concessional capital agencies like the African Development Bank must invest in enabling agriculture infrastructure. For example, Without roads and basic infrastructure; farmers cannot receive basic inputs or get their products to market, Without secure land tenure and modern equipment for farm production and processing, yields will continue to be low and post-harvest losses high and without a firm national, regional and international commitment to agricultural development and a stable and conducive policy environment in which it can take place, investment will not come. Therefore, the following areas must be financed;

Area 1: Enhancing Production and Productivity.

To contain food and energy insecurity, factor productivity (land, labour, and capital) will have to be raised substantially. To this end, Financing should be directed towards eight core areas; Technology Development/Research; Advisory Services and Technology Delivery; Disease, Pest and Vector Control; Sustainable Management of Land and Water Resources; Water for Agricultural Production ( financing should be scaled up from current $11 billion to $100 billion); Development and Promotion of Labour Saving Technologies including Appropriate Mechanization; Improved Access to High Quality Inputs and Stocking Materials; and Accelerated Production of Selected Strategic Enterprises (including food security crops).

Area 2: Improving Access to and Sustainability of Markets: Productivity growth without significant improvements in marketing is an opportunity lost. Farmers on the continent need to be assisted to participate in higher value-added market chains than they can at present. Therefore Africa must finance major public works like - roads, railways, and telecommunications. To harness Markets, new investments must be directed towards to three core areas, Increased Value-addition in Agriculture, with the emphasizing Strategic Commodities, involving the promotion of Public Private Partnerships (out grower models, the warehouse receipt system, contract farming), and assistance with improving post harvest handling, storage, rural market infrastructure; Increased capacity of farmers’ organizations to build up skills in management, entrepreneurship, and group dynamics so they can engage in higher-level value-chain activities including collective marketing.

Area 3. Farmer Institution Development: Farmer institutions are important forums for mobilizing farmers around a common objective, delivery of services as well as policies that support agricultural development. They form key entry points for service delivery to individual households or communities. Farmer organizations play a leading role in technology promotion, market organization and value addition. Yet Majority farmer institutions in Africa are still characterized by low capacity to effectively perform their roles and to demand for delivery of agricultural advisory/extension services. This therefore means that African financing efforts should focus on strengthening the capacity of these institutions to fully participate in the commodity value chain development and combating climate change and ensuring accountability of public resources in Agriculture. Integrated Support to Farmer Groups, is an effective way of realizing improvements in agricultural production and productivity. Since these activities take place through groups, it also means that advisory services, monitoring and accountability would be more effective.

Area 4: Fund to Reward Farmers for Ecosystem Services and Carbon offsets: Farmers interact with the environment daily and are a center of gravity in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Not only do farmers produce food, feed and fiber, but also a whole range of ecosystem services, including services related to water availability and water quality, directly and indirectly benefiting society and the environment. In order to achieve long-term positive effects, incentives must encourage and enable farmers to continue providing ecosystem services through the adoption of environmentally friendly practices. Stewardship programs offer the necessary positive incentives to encourage farmers to adopt these practices. Farmers should therefore be able to benefit from these programs through which their existing and future activities to enhance water quality and ensure its efficient use are recognized and rewarded. The role of farmers’ organizations in stewardship programs is crucial. Specifically, farmers should be offered financial incentives to invest in renewable energy, farm practices that sequestrate carbon and activities that protect and restore water catchments systems.
Finally, to support the efforts of farmers to improve agriculture and agriculture related water use, public policy makers worldwide need to re-engage with African farmers and other stakeholders to build an integrated approach to agricultural and rural development And farmers' efforts must be harnessed to realize food security in Africa. As governments reaffirmed various commitments, Farmers once more re committed their inherent DNA to feed the World.

Rwakakamba Morrison
Resident Consultant and Manager Policy Research and Advocacy
Uganda National Farmers Federation
rwakakamba@yahoo.co.uk, www.farmersenclave.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 5, 2009


According to Uganda Sugar Cane Technologists Association (USCTA) annual report of 2006, the sugar sector contributes 217 billion shillings to Uganda’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP) thus saving the country of over US Dollars 132 million ($132m) of foreign exchange outflow. This figure is expected to rise up to 350 billion Uganda shillings by 2011. The Sugar sector also contributes over 54 billion shillings in revenue to Government through the VAT and Exercise duty tax regime. The sector employs 20,000 persons directly and 50,000 persons indirectly in the outgrowers farms. The foregoing underlines the importance and centrality of sugar cane sector in Uganda. Despite the impressive figures stated above, outgrowers (farmers) are at the tail in the value and benefit sharing trajectory with a share of only 25%. The main players in the sugar cane economy who are the Millers (Kakira, Kinyara and SCOUL) take 46% before other net gains through undertaking co-generation programmes for energy production (secondary derivative of cane) from baggase are computed.

To understand the dilema of cane out growers (farmers) we need to look at the chain of stakeholders and examine revenue share in the sugar value chain. The key actors in the sugar sector are farmers, millers, governmnet and consumers. The farmer among all the listed stake holders in the value chain takes the longest time (600 days) handling and producing sugar but earns only 25% gross earnings. The Miller who takes the shortest time (only 36 hours) and uses half the resources the farmer uses in producing a tone of sugar earns the biggest proportion of 46% of the over all consumer sugar value! The central government charges value added tax (VAT) of 18% on the Ex factory price of sugar per tonne, and Exercise duty of 50shs per Kg of sugar while local governments in sugar growing districts collect 1500shs per tone of sugar.

As of August 2009, the price of sugar per tonne Ex factory was 1,136,017shs. Out of the foregoing figure, a farmer was paid only 25% of the sugar value as price per tone of uncrushed sugarcane was and is still only 35783shs. The renderment or the percentage of sugar recovered from sugar cane is only 9% in Uganda. The situation is made worse because the miller pays the farmer in two parts; Interim payment which is 90% of the previous final year price at 32,600ushs per tone and the final balance is paid after final averages of the price and renderment of sugar are got which actually means that by retaining farmers revenue, the Miller is earning interest on farmers revenue! Price of sugar to the consumer is 1,600,000shs per tonne.

Sugar cane growers are disturbed by the diabolic and outdated formula used by millers to determine sugarcane price. The formula goes as follows; Pc=Ps X R X35%, Where Pc = Price of Sugar per tone, Ps = Average annual price of sugar per tone (factory gate price) and R = Renderment or Average annual Sugar recovery from sugarcane (Usually between minimum of 9% to maximum of 10.5%). First of all, this formula was made with out involvment of growers or their bodies the Uganda National Association of Sugar Cane Growers(UNASGO) and the Uganda National Farmers Federation. Secondly, the formula does not provide for renumeration of the cane grower as a result of other sugar cane derivatives such as molasses, power generation from baggasse, for which the Miller earns and saves sizable expenses, the formula ignores breakeven analysis as a basis for making price decision and does not reward quality production from more serious farmers because of the use of averages of the renderment and prices in the year. This colonial and contemptuous exploitation of farmers must stop.

Yet compared to Kenya and Tanzania, the situation of sugar cane farmers in Uganda is gloomy. A Ugandan farmer is paid far less. While a farmer in Kinyara in Uganda is paid 32,600Ugshs per tone of sugarcane supplied to the factory, the farmer at Kilombero in Tanzania recieves 49,000 Ugshs per tone and the Kenyan farmer gets an equivalent of 63,000 Uganda shillings! Yet again in the region it is only Uganda that does not have a sugar Act and a Sugar policy to guide sugar sector activities. This situation has denied cane growers an oportunity to achieve their full potential and subsequent prosperity. Sugar is a strategic crop like coffee, cotton, tea and diary for the country yet unlike the mentioned strategic crops, Sugar has no regulatory frameworks to oversee its sectoral operations.

Government and Millers must treat Sugarcane outgrowers fairly through ensuring uniform cane prices by all millers, subsidising infrastructure and farmworks in outgrowers plantations, putting in place a fevourable formula for determining cane price, subsidy for aquisition of small mills for value addition, reaserch and extension services for sugarcane and a importantaly, a Sugar Cane Policy.

Rwakakamba Morrison

Resident Consultant and Manager, Policy Research and Advocacy

Uganda National Farmers Federation


Monday, August 3, 2009

Rampant fake agricultural inputs distort agricultural incentives to farmers in Uganda.

On July 25th 2009, I was together with NARO’s Mrs. Kagwa Margaret hosted by Mr. Eric Luyuyo on Jinja’s Bamboo FM for a talkshow that focussed on Agriculture. The timing was important. First, a National Agricultural trade show where farmers are expected to showcase their achivements was taking place in eastern Uganda i.e at the Source of the Nile. Second, Famine was and is still ravaging that part of the country. A myraid callers were agitated by the lesser than life situation they were faced with. However, amidst such a dire situation, listeners still could afford to sacrifice airtime to touch base with a public conversation on radio that touch thier lives. I was excited and humbled by their spirit of citizenship and their indelible hopes that famine and disease can be overcome in their part of the country. Caller after caller exhibited grief over unchecked spread of fake agricultural inputs. Many hinted at quiting farming after having borrowed money from Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) to procure better seeds, fertilizer, agri chemicals and so on hoping for better yeilds! That didnot come to pass and many are into hiding because they cannot pay their loans. This reminds me of yet another classic story of a one young farmer investor, Andrew Kikira from Rukungiri who in 2008 opened up 100 acres of land in Bwambara subcounty to tap into the lucrative rice farming and trade. He procured Agro-supernil herbicide from General and Allied Ltd, container village in Kampala. He was aware that muscle power for weeding would be time wasting and expensive. The Agro-supernil was expected to kill all the weed. This never happened. His projection was to harvest 500 bags of unhurled rice. He harvested only 80 bags! He suspended farming!! What lessons do we then learn from such breathtaking testimonies?
First, we should note that underhand profiteering tendencies of some input dealers can in the long run preside over the death and burial of the agriculture sector in Uganda. Fake chemicals have a big destructive impact on farming. If it is a pesticide, the pests will not die even when a farmer applies it regularly. If it is a herbicide, the grass will just continue growing even after the harmless chemical has been applied. Consequently, the farmer will notice a decrease in yields and adverse effects on the environment and human life. The fake chemicals accelerate soil deterioration resulting in substantial crop losses and in the larger picture, it affects economic growth.
Secondly, we are reminded of chronic failure of government and its responsible agencies to regulate and enforce starndards regime in the agriculture sector. Why should we for example have adulterated chemicals like Glyphosate, Dithane M45 or Mancozeb 80WP, Dursban 4E, Ridomil Gold MZ 68WP, Ag. Basle and Furadan and so on on the market? Why should we have adulterated fertilizer like NPK, DAP and Urea on the market? Why should farmers buy expensive seeds on the market whose germination rate is 20%. Why? What happened to agriculture inspectors in the Ministry of Animal Industry and Fisheries? What happened to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards?
Thirdly, our farmers are left at the hands of unscruplous agriculture input dealers who have managed to abuse the fevourable zero rate agriculture input tax regime in the country to exploit and cheat farmers. In 2007 the price of 50 kg NPK fertilzer bag was 45,000Ushs compared to now 140,000 in 2009. Hand hoe price shifted from 2500Ushs to now 4500Ushs in 2009! Oxplough from 125000Ushs in 2007 to 250,000 Ushs in 2009. A one day old chick has also doubled the price, from 500Ushs in 2008 to now 1000 in 2009! This madness must be arrested. Farmers need protection from these distorted markets otherwise the good action by government of removing taxes on agro-iputs will continue to only benefit private input importers and dealers at expense of farmers to whome the incentive was meant to serve in the first place.
Finally, in this foregoing chaos, even guenine agro-input dealers are going to suffer if they dont come out to work with farmers to expose those involved in distortion of inputs markets. As a Farmers Federation, we are going to open up complait desks in all our branches across the country such that dealers who sale fake inputs to our farmers are exposed and reprimanded. We are in discussions with pro farmers groups like Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment and AT- Uganda to persue a public interest litigation against fradulent agro input companies and auxilliary dealers that are increasingly becoming painful to the farmers flaternity.

Rwakakamba Morrison
Resident Consultant and Manager Policy Research and Advocacy
Uganda National Farmers Federationrwakakamba@yahoo.co.uk

How to arrest Famine in Uganda

On Monday 15th June 2009, Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) in Patnership with Uganda National Council for Science and Technology(UNCST) held a special multstakholder conversation on biotechnology. In attendance were Farmers, Enviromentalists and Scientists. This dialogue presented a classic interface between farmers and other actors along the agriculture value chain. Enviromentalists were furious at advances of Genenetic Modified Organisms (GMO) in Uganda. Scientists were passionate about the future of agriculture in Uganda with biotechnology as a catapult for sustainable agriculture development and food chains. Mr. Arthur Makara of Science Foundation for Development (SCIFODE) argued that humans have used the biological processes of microorganisms since six thousand years ago to make useful food products, such as bread and cheese and to preserve dairy products.Farmers were abit confused on which way to go! Folks, the debate on wether Uganda should go organic or GMO is largely unsettled! In April 2008, the government of Uganda ockeyed a policy on biotechnology and biosafety, however the bill necessary to operationalise it is stalled! Nobody seems to talk about the bill anymore! The country has thus fallen short on its committments to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's Cartagena Protocol to protect biodiversity from any potential harm posed by genetically modified (GM) organisms.This delay of the law, means that the Government of Uganda is still soul searching and trapped in between the advances of terminator seed companies like MOSANTO that have for long advanced GMO agenda and the green arguments of conservative Enviromentalists like Evergreen, organicists like NOGAMU and other civic groups whose stand on GMO’s has been an emphatic no! Organisations like Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) have been largely moderate arguing that once the biosafety law is in place both Organic and GMOs can operate in Uganda. I belong to the latter school of thought. Those in favour of GMOs have argued that Biotechnology will be used to address problems in all areas of agricultural production and processing. This includes plant breeding, to raise and stabilize yield, to improve resistance against pests, disease and abiotic stresses such as drought and cold; and to enhance the nutritional content of food, develop low cost disease free planting materials for crops such as banana, potato and coffee, and creating new tools for the diagnosis and treatment of plant and animal diseases and for the measurement and conservation of bio-resources. To the scientist Biotech helps also to speed up breeding programs for plants, animals and marine resources such as fish. Animal. Biotech is important in animal disease diagnostics and development of animal vaccines against several diseases. When I met 300 farmers for a converstaion in Rukungiri on 26th june 2009 and whose major problem is dwindling land resources for agriculture, I told them that the asnswer lies in spin farming with biotechnology as a catapult. I told farmers to take on enterprises like mushroom farming, poultry, Zero grazing cows and so on. Such enterprises dont need land. Another key challenge raised by farmers in Rukungiri, was unprecedented diseases for crops like coffee, cassava and bananas. The counsel from scientists was adoptation of immunised planting materials and use of seed that are water efficient and resistant to drought. This therefore means that any strategy or action for arresting famine and hunger that is spreading like wild fire in the country must underscore robust investiment in biotechnology and persue scientific agriculuture with in the context of agriculture zoning that allocates areas for GMOs and organic agriculture. The foregoing actions must also be butressed by initiatives that harness water for irrigation and wind for energy to support agroproccessing in rural areas. We neednt mention rural infrastructure installation. After that we can start telling farmers to do farming with a bussiness imperative, link them to bussiness enhancing credit and markets. This is how Uganda will shift from nature based or chance based agriculture systems to more predictable, practicle and susstainable agriculture. Instead of lecturing farmers all the time, I think we need to listen to them in order to practically respond to their needs. Despite the mountain challenges farmers have experienced over the years, they have always been resilient and will soon overcome.

Rwakakamba Morrison
Resident consultant and Manager, Policy Research and Advocacy
Uganda National Farmers Federation

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Towards a new Green Deal: Focussing on Farmers’ solutions to climate change

On April 8th 2009, I attended a highlevel meeting of global experts on bioenergy and climate change in the medievel city of Paris, 60 rue, St. lazare, France on the invitation of International Federation of Agriculturral Producers (IFAP), a global farmers body. The core aim was to help ready a farmers’ position memoranda to put to nations as they gather in Copenhagen, November 2009, to negotiate and put pen to paper on a new green deal that will replace the contraversial Kyoto Protocal. For starters, Kyoto Protocol is an international system of environmental governance, implemented under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for the purpose of regulating levels of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. This protocal was signed in 1997 and formally came into effect on February 16, 2005. The protocal has been majory a failure due United States of America (USA) and Australia’s boycott and the suspicious exemption of China from compliance to the protocal. The aforementioned are great emitters of Greenhouse gases and thus heavy polluters of mother nature. With the entry of the USA in Copenhagen negotiations, $71 billion allocation in the Obama economic stimulus plan to butress green programs, this anticipated Green deal, a massive program of green investment will reduce greenhouse gas emissions even as it stimulates jobs, profits and innovation worldwide and lift millions of people out of poverty and economic distress. If crafted properly, the deal will green not only our societies but our wallets. Having said that, such a deal may suffer setbacks if its staves off farmers interests. I have argued before that, Farmers intteract on daily basis with the Environment. Their agro practices constitute a deep impact on the climate, both in mitigative and escalative terms. Yet changes in climate have had gagntuan negative impacts on especially poor farmers who urgently need help to adapt and to cope. It is therefore not in any doubt that farmers are a center of gravity in the quest for solutions to climate change.

The role of agriculture in climate change trajectory needs to be understood. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the mitigation potential of agriculture is estimated to reach 5.5-6 Gt of CO2 per year by 2030, which is enormous relative to its emissions which represent 13.5% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) . 89% of this potential would be accounted for by soil carbon sequestration (amount of carbon agricultural activities sink in actual terms), while 70% of the total mitigation potential could be realized in developing countries like Uganda.

This huge mitigation and adaptation potential of agriculture offers bright perspectives to increase the sustainability and resilience of the entire sector. With the mounting pressure on the agricultural sector to provide the growing world population with enough food and energy as well as environmental protection all at the same time, substantial investments in the agricultural sector are necessary as an effective way to combat climate change and poverty and to boost economic growth. High priority to increased production, productivity and high quality production in particular in developing countries is necessary. This is key to overcoming the climate change challenges while achieving the Millenim Development Goals..

Fellow citezens, climate change is everyone’s concern, and the associated costs have to be shared amongst all stakeholders and society as a whole. We have for too long stood aside as both participants and witnesses to the rape of the word with forexample, cities of concrete, fossil fuel emisions, deforestation, waste dumping, buvera etc. And the vulnerable especially farmers are facing the brunt. If farmers are not sufficiently prepared and supported to face climate change, the deterioration of their natural, financial, social and physical capital, resulting in lower farm productivity, will give rise to increased poverty, health problems, food insecurity and even social unrest. Consequently, agriculture, climate change, food security and poverty reduction are inextricably linked. This link is unique to the agricultural sector, and therefore, deserves due recognition by negotiators in Copenhagen. We also need to understand that key functions of agriculture go beyond the mere responsibility of producing food. It provides a wide range of other services ranging from feed, fiber, energy and ecosystem services . Farmers as custodians of nature are in constant interaction with the environment. They are thus well placed to use sustainable agricultural practices -such as conservation agriculture-, that also mitigate climate change, and benefit rural and urban populations. We also know that farmers have adapted to climate variability for centuries and still manage to feed the world population. Climate change exacerbates the existing difficulties that the agricultural sector and farmers have been facing for decades as a result of a neglect of this sector in national budgets (20082009 Uganda national budget budget, the allocation to agriculture sector was a paltry 3.4%). These include lack of investments in research and development, extension services, affordable credit, water and land availability, decreasing yields due to diminishing soil fertility among others.

Therefore, a positive and enabling approach is needed through the establishment of the right incentive mechanisms (supported by an international and a national carbon accounting framework that recognises the sequestration capacity of agricultural activities) to support farmers in bearing the cost of climate mitigation and adaptation. This incentive based approach to climate mitigation and adaptation as opposed to a penalty based approach- will have a positive effect on the modernization and sustainability of the agricultural sector. This will in turn impulse economic growth and rural development. In Uganda, carbon trade has been kept in veil by forestry and environment agencies. Small holder farmers with mini forests have not benefited from any carbon money yet their activities are sinking carbon and replenishing mother nature. The Federation of Farmers in Uganda in concert with farmers all over the world demand that Uganda government negotiators in Copenhagen call for;

· Official recognition of agriculture as a sector that experiences climate change effects and at the same time, as a sector with a huge potential in providing solutions to mitigating and adapting to climate change consequences

· A commitment for substantial increased investments on agriculture and the prioritisation of the sector in national strategies and budgets in order to increase the sectors resilience to climate change while impulsing economic growth.

· Support the full integration of agriculture in the post-Kyoto protocol. Agriculture being a cross-cutting issue, it should be mainstreamed under all the different components of the Bali Action Plan and beyond.

· Recognition and reflection of the specific characteristics and needs of agriculture in the post-Kyoto agreement in order to take full advantage of the sequestration potential of the agricultural sector. The current Kyoto accounting rules do not reflect the specificities.

· The establishment of an appropriate financial mechanism to reward farmers for the carbon sequestration and ecosystem services that mitigate climate change, providing them with the right financial incentive mechanisms to adopt sustainable practices

· Recognition of Farmers’ Organisations as partners and link between farmers’ communities and the international carbon market as well as international institutions

Rwakakamba Morrison
Resident consultant and Manager for Policy Research and Advocacy at the Uganda National Farmers Federation and a Member of Bioenergy and Climate change Experts working group at the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP)