Agricultural experts in Uganda are calling upon government to develop its nonexistent grain reserves as a minimum guard against the growing global food crisis.
“In some countries, government has silos where it can buy produce from the population to try and maintain reasonable prices, and if there is a crisis, then that food can also be availed to the population. In this country, there is no such programme,” said Mr Arthur Makara, the executive director of Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development.
Mr Makara echoes a constant criticism of preparedness and food security in the country, and one remedy called for in the recent report from international aid group Oxfam.
The report, entitled ‘Growing a Better Future’ says steadily increasing food and oil prices, effects of climate change, and weak land policies will continue to take the biggest toll on the world’s poor.
“The 2008 spike in food prices pushed some 100 million people into poverty. Price rises so far in 2011 have done the same to 44 million more,” the report says.
Oxfam’s assessment comes on the heels of a dire warning from the World Bank, which said the world is “one shock away from a full-blown crisis” as well as a report from Christian Aid that said the deregulation of financial markets has likely had an unforeseen impact on global food prices.
The Oxfam report also adds that support needs to be “dismantled” for biofuel programmes, which divert land and grain to produce fuel over food.
Without both domestic and international intervention on these fronts, Oxfam forecasts the rising price of staple grains “in the range of 120 to 180 per cent within the next two decades”.
Mr Denis Kyetere, the director general, National Agricultural Research Organisation, said while recent grain harvests have improved slightly since being hit by drought earlier this year, infrastructure and ministry coordination remain the most lacking in Uganda