Today Friday, September 21, 2018 during a press conference held at ESAFF Uganda National Secretariat, small scale farmers from all over Uganda gathered to launch a petition to demand government to allocate 10% of the National Budget to the agriculture sector. In their address to the media, small scale farmers said that by 2050, the population of East African countries in the East African Community (EAC) is predicted to hit 411 million people of which the largest proportion will be young people. They recognized that the agriculture sector, which is mainly subsistence employs on average over 76% of the entire population of the EAC of which over 85% are women and it takes a large share of National Economies of countries in the region.
They further said that government investment in the agricultural sector can not only address hunger and malnutrition but also other challenges including poverty, climate change among others since agriculture development is considered a key pillar in achieving the about 9 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including Ending Poverty, Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Life on Land.
It should be noted that in 2014 EAC Heads of state were part of a meeting held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea where African Heads of State and Government of the African Union adopted the Malabo declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for shared prosperity and Improved Livelihoods meant to transform the Agriculture sector in Africa and to give CAADP an opportunity to guide agriculture development on the African continent.
Small-scale farmers called on government to put in place concrete plans and timeframe to realise the Malabo Declaration as well as the Zanzibar Resolution on Malabo from the budget of 2019/2020 to ensure progressive realization of inadequate public financing into agriculture to the level of 10%.
Small scale farmers thereafter launched a petition to collect over one million signatures to demand EAC Head of States for four main issues including to speedily and progressively implement Malabo Declaration in Uganda and all EAC States and make it mandatory (legal requirement) as from 2019/2020 budget to allocate not less than 10 percent of national budget to agriculture sector; to ensure that the 10% funding be directed to agroecological agriculture that is sustainable; to ensure that in each of EAC states a just and fair disbursement system of 10% agriculture budget in support of smallholder farmers especially the youth and women at grassroots level; and to ensure that each EAC State put in place and operationalise national and regional platforms for enhancing mutual accountability to actions and results.