By Our Reporter
The leader of the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED), Joseph Kabuleta,has warned the government against importing new rice of low standards to the country which he said has degraded the standards and quality of rice grown in Uganda.
Speaking during a weekly press conference held in Kampala, Kabuleta said the government is intentionally keeping Ugandans in poverty with different interventions brought to disrupt our economic activities.
“We are talking about rice farmers in the districts of Bukedi sub region. They are under threat of being chased away from wetlands where they have been earning a living because those districts are wetland and that is where they do economic activities, “he said.
Kablueta’s remarks followed a speech given by Moses Hegenyi Kemba, a rice farmer from Butaleja district who claimed that some government officials are chasing away local people growing rice in their private swamps and bringing Chinese investors to grow rice in the place.
“The district depends on rice growing which the government again wants to sell the swamps to the so called investors. Government is mooting a plan to uproot all local rice growers from the swamps of Bukedi and instead bring in foreign investors to take on rice farming in the region,”he said.
Bukedi sub region, which is made up of districts such as Budaka, Butebo, Kibuku, Pallisa and Butaleja, is nearly 70% wetland.
Kemba said the majority of the people in this area are involved in rice farming, having given up on cotton years ago.
He said the unfortunate thing is that these farmers are now facing threats of being forcefully pushed out of their land in the pretext of preserving the environment.
The National Coordinator NEED, Asuman Odaka who also hails from the region told the Nile Post that there is a lot of land grabbing in Bukedi sub region, adding that rice production has greatly declined and poverty has become the norm in this region.
“Land grabbing is the most hurting issue in the Bukedi region. Wildlife has also been affected by land grabbing in Bukedea moreover it’s taken by the same criminals. Bukedi has slow economic growth because of no support from the government, yet minerals are just stolen, “he said.
Kabuleta said land issues that plague this country need to be solved with decisive action, adding that it is sad that there is continuous land grabbing of people in Bukedi sub region.
“These people are being pushed out of the swamps, which are privately owned. Yet shockingly they are bringing a Chinese farmer to replace them. You are chasing people and bringing Chinese people to do the same thing that these people have been doing,” he said.
Kabuleta said all that is taking place is part of president Museveni’s plans to make the region poor because he has not done anything to ensure that officials who are grabbing people are brought to book.