Kyotera– President Museveni yesterday reassured Ugandans on government’s commitment to promote irrigation and ensure food security in the country.
Mr Museveni was speaking at the 56th Independence anniversary celebrations at Kasasa Grounds in Kyotera District. He said this financial year, government will roll out irrigation projects in at least 14 districts.
“There are a number of irrigation projects we are going to launch soon and they will enhance our efforts in agriculture,” the President said.
Mr Museveni said once farmers embrace irrigation, they will engage in agricultural production all year-round to boost food production and mitigate climate change challenges that have been manifested in long droughts.
He reiterated his call to farmers to abandon subsistence farming and adopt commercial agriculture. He said subsistence farming has inhibited Uganda from optimising its agricultural potential.
He said he is disappointed that the agriculture sector is growing at a slow pace of 3.2 per cent per year compared to 7.9 per cent of ICT, Services (7.3 per cent) and industry (6.2 per cent).
“The bigger problem we still have is the mindset change. Our people cannot benefit anything from agriculture when they are still farming for subsistence purposes. Leaders here need to take it upon themselves to sensitise people to understand commercial agriculture to guarantee food and household income,” Mr Museveni said.
Agriculture is repeatedly described as the backbone of Uganda’s economy employing at least 85 per cent of the population, but investment in the sector is still low which has kept production down.
This year’s Independence anniversary was marked under the theme “Standing tall to celebrate 56 years of independence.”
On security, Mr Museveni said the ongoing installation of CCTV cameras will go a long way in fighting urban crime and added that both the army and police are ready to defeat anybody who plans to disrupt peace.
“I need to apologise for coming late, I was, however, doing some good job in Kampala of installing CCTV cameras. We are going to roll out the same programme along highways and the whole country,” he said. “I can assure you that all the problems I have handled in the last 55 years are bigger than terrorism. I will defeat the terrorists too.”
Mr Museveni promised a ferry connecting Kyebe Sub-county to Nangoma Island, south of River Kagera.
Unlike the previous independence anniversary celebrations, no president from Africa attended this year’s event.
Prof Augustus Nuwagaba, a lecturer of economics at Makerere University, Prof Sam Tulyamuhika, Uganda’s ambassador to Somalia, ambassador Nimisha Jayant Madhvani, Uganda’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Rotarian Robert Ssebunya were among the more than 80 recipients of medals for their illustrious contribution to transformation of the country.
For the 56 years Uganda has been independent from colonialists, 32 independence anniversaries have occurred during Mr Museveni’s reign as president.
Critics say little has been achieved during the 32 years of his rule compared to what previous presidents did in 24 years.
By the end of his current term in office, President Museveni will have ruled Uganda for 35 years.
With both the presidential age limit and presidential term limits out of the Constitution, he may be re-elected until he is physically unable to contest.
When Mr Museveni assumed power in 1986 (32 years ago) after a successful guerrilla war, he announced he would not rule more than four years after and condemned African leaders who overstayed in power for retarding the continent’s progress. There is now considerable peace across the country compared to the past, but the rising insecurity of person remains an sticking issue for the citizens, especially following armed killings in urban centres.
On June 20, President Museveni addressed the country in what has since been dubbed the “state of security address.”
He proposed a raft of measures including scanners at border points to examine all containers coming into the country to prevent gun infiltration, installing CCTV cameras on highways and towns, finger-printing guns in the country and recruiting local defence guards, among others.
It remains to be seen how these measures will guarantee security in the country.