More Ugandans starving, says report

More Ugandans starving, says report
Lokwii Nakuro lives close to the town of Kotido. The old Karimojong women lost her husband during a attempted cattle raid, when he was shot in front of his hut. Now she struggles with the rest of her family to eke out a living by farming. Courtesy Photo.

The number of food-stressed Ugandans has shot to 26.5 per cent of the country’s population of 37 million, up from the 16 per cent reported in July 2016, a report from the Office of the Prime Minister has found.

The new report, presented to cabinet by the Minister of State for Karamoja, Moses Kizige, comes on the coat-tails of the January 2017 National Food Security Assessment Report, which reported that the number of food-insecure Ugandans had risen to 11.4 million, up from 1.3 million people reported in November 2016.

Thirty districts were assessed for food and nutrition security. They include Arua, Maracha, Nebbi, Yumbe, Iganga, Kiryandongo, Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Kasese, Kabale and Kyenjojo, among others.

In many of these districts, a big percentage of the population can only have one to two meals a day while 4.5 per cent of the country’s population does not have any food stocks and are classified as being in a food crisis.

The Office of the Prime Minister attributes this current food insecurity to prolonged dry spells resulting in crop/pasture failure and livestock deaths, crop and animal pests like Fall Armyworm and foot and mouth disease as well as inadequate knowledge about water harvesting, storage and use of water for irrigation.

The minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Ssempijja, said the Fall Armyworm battered the country’s food stocks. He said however, that government had embarked on a nationwide awareness campaign on recognition, management and effective insecticides to kill the worm.

“In the medium term, the ministry through the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) is screening natural agents that can kill the Fall Armyworm,” said Ssempijja.

He added that his ministry had engaged foreign manufacturers of pesticides to set up shop in the country as government in the long run develops bio control agents and breeding for resistance.