Uganda: Columnist says "smart" land leases to agribusinesses could counter adverse effects of climate change on food security
Author: Charles Onyango-Obbo, in The EastAfrican (Kenya), Published on: 7 November 2016
"Lease out the land, bring in GMOs, it’s the way out"
Uganda is a “Matooke Republic,” and quite a bit of the plantain crop comes from Isingiro district in the west. Soon, that will be no more as the worst drought in nearly 20 years ravages that part of the country. Its livestock industry, and that of neighbouring Kiruhura, is under threat as cattle perish. It last rained there in April...Stories of hunger are now the norm. Years ago this was a lush area, but now its hills are bare. The local authorities have now banned charcoal burning. But the story of Isingiro is a Ugandan story, and the situation is worse in eastern Kenya. The rain gods are angry with us, it would seem. The future calls for drastic action if East Africans are to eat. The region may have to go to bed with the devil. The wider environmental crisis in the region has probably reached a level that state resources alone cannot reverse. The farmers have reached their wit’s end, and are not able to pay for environmental repair to their lands..
...[S]omeone with lots of money needs to come in, and for that to happen governments and activists in the region will have to embrace the idea of concessioning land to foreign nations and firms eager to lease it for farming. The last time the Kenya government tried to lease land in its Tana Delta to Qatar, a storm came down on its head. Land leases are deeply unpopular, conjuring up images of a “second colonialism,” and highlighting the failures and incompetence of local agriculture in a way that makes too many people uncomfortable. But a smart way can be found to be found to do these leases, with strong environmental investment policies to boot.