After 500 million years of working the African lands, the continental soils must be undergoing key changes:

This is the opinion of a soil scientist:

A farmer in Amuru district, Uganda, uses a tractor to till his garden. PHOTO BY TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY

13 July, 2018

 By Ismail Musa Ladu

 

Do you test your soil before planting?

Is the crop you’re planting perfectly suited to the quality of soils in your field?

And did you know that it is important to understand the nature and quality of the soils before planting?   

If your responses to the aforementioned questions are in affirmative then you are doing the right thing.

But if your answers are in negatives then you need to change and you need to do it quickly.

This is because good soils make fine gardens and the quality of soil determines the yields a farmer gets, as long as all other factors remain constant.

Importantly perhaps, after more than 500 million years of working the land, a cross-section of scientists now believe that Uganda’s fields have already entered the final stages of weathering.

This means that the soils fertility of the land is not the same anymore. The situation has been worsened by bad farming practices, swamp degradation and over working the land among other factors.

And this calls for proper and professional way of farming before things gets any worse or out of control.

But first, the farmers and those involved in agricultural value chain must undergo a mindset shift. And this must begin now.     

“… to adopt profit oriented farming fundamentally takes a shift in mind set, behaviour change, adoption of  new technologies, market structures, business skills that can promote  sustainable soil fertility, business growth, trade and investment, the Country Coordinator, AgriProFocus Uganda, Ms Lucy Asiimwe Twinamasiko said in a statement issued ahead of a consultative meeting that happened last week at Bugolobi in Kampala.

More than 500 years of working the soil

The statement further quoted her as saying: “Although In Uganda, farmers continue to boast of rich soils, farmers could be headed for hard times if they don’t adopt good soil management practices,” Ms Twinamasiko said in a statement issued late last week by Ms Gloria Kyomugisha, the AgriProFocus Uganda communications officer.

It is for this reason (alarming soil fertility degradation) that the  AgriProFocus Uganda Network in Collaboration with SoilCares are having a consultative meeting in Kampala tomorrow to explore the possibility of establishing a soil care community  practice.

The invitational consultative meeting on a Soil Care community of practice 2018 focuses on sharing expert knowledge, experiences and technological solutions related to soil fertility management in Uganda.

Importantly perhaps, stakeholders involved such as the farmers, including the government must realize that after working the land for over five centuries, it is time proper methods of farming is observed to the letter and the illusion that the soils are still as virgin as it were centuries ago should be discarded.  

“Uganda is blessed with a wide diversity of natural resources: soil, climate, water and vegetation, enabling it to grow a large number of adapted crops. However, most soils in Uganda are older than 500 million years and are in their final stage of weathering,” Dr Christy van Beek, Director SoilCares Foundation, Chief Agronomist SoilCares said in the statement.

Worth knowing…

The predominant minerals in the soils are quartz and kaolinite that don’t directly supply nutrients to soils. The soils are acidic and infertile with low cation exchange capacity (CEC).

Over the years, food production has been characterised by subsistence farming. A subsistence production system usually focuses on a maximizing short-term profit, consuming natural stocks of plant nutrients. Such a farming system has resulted in soil fertility degradation through nutrient mining.

The community of practice to be established, would further look into what is needed to tackle the soil challenges efficiently and effectively.

The consultations that will happen tomorrow will therefore provide an overview of the soil fertility situation in Uganda from National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).

With the meeting aimed at raising awareness about soil fertility, SoilCares, a major stakeholder, will offer highlights on their latest technology used in soil testing.

The technology emphasizes how crucial soil testing is for increasing agricultural production, getting farmers to know how best to treat their soil, so that in turn it can give the maximum yield they need.

Target audience:

The consultative meeting that happened last week brought together development partners, farmer representatives, knowledge institutes, Cooperatives, Government officials and individual farmers and organisations to build a long term soil care community.

 

 

 

 

 

 The Government of Uganda after allowing  human settlement on the famous Mabira forests, is to use tax payer's money to buy off these settlements: 

 

Driving. Motorists drive through Mabira forest

Driving. Motorists drive through Mabira forest in Buikwe District at the weekend. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Derrick Wandera and Paul Tajuba

Kampala. The National Forestry Authority (NFA) is in advanced stages of buying off 16 villages within Mabira Rain Forest, Buikwe District, to manage encroachment on the largest natural forest in the country.
The NFA director of natural forests management, Mr Levi Etwodu, said acquiring the 2,700 hectares of land currently occupied by the residents will make forestry management easier. There are 16 villages in Mabira forest whose residents legally own land in the more than 300 square kilometre piece since it was gazetted in the 1930s.

“We are already budgeting to make sure we restore part of Mabira forest, which is currently being occupied by a number of villagers. Most of these villages are experiencing population increase and this means when they outgrow their current space, they will soon start encroaching on the forest land,” Mr Etwodu said at a public dialogue last week.
A 2017 Ministry of Water and Environment sector review report indicates that “4,755 hectares of Mabira were mapped as degraded or understocked and 1,500 hectares of these are under restoration.”

The development comes after NTV and Daily Monitor featured a story highlighting encroachment on the forest that acts as home to several bird, animal, and tree species and also catchment for Lake Victoria and River Nile. Despite such uses, there have been reports of people cutting down trees in the forest for charcoal burning, firewood and agriculture.
In 2007, government attempted to parcel out part of the forest to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL), sparking off protests which claimed three lives across the country, forcing the government to abandon the move.

In a recent tour of Mabira forest, one of the 506 central reserves managed by the NFA, State minister for Environment Mary Gorretti Kitutu, said: “We have a proposal that we compensate these people and they surrender this land such that we manage a closed forest.”
Mr Livingstone Ddumba, a herbalist who depends on the forest, said: “If we leave the forest, who will protect it? It is us who have protected this forest; we actually fought to stop Mehta from being given this forest to grow to sugarcane.”

Mr Denis Kavuma, the general manager of Uganda Timber Growers’ Association (UTGA), said people have the advantage of the grants given by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation to continue with the growing of trees.
“There is a role that can be played by everyone including the media in conserving forests in the country. So far a number of farmers have benefited from the grants of FAO to farmers to grow trees, let us take advantage of this as we continue with the sensitisation,” he said.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

 

 

 

 

 

Egypt still wants revision of the Nile Treaty to safeguard its interest on the East African water source:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (Right)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (Right) and Rwandan President Paul Kagame inspect a guard of honour after Al-Sisi’s arrival at Kigali International Airport on August 15, for a two-day visit. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | AFP

 

 

21August, 2017

 

By The EastAfrican

 

Egypt is trying to convince countries to adopt its renegotiated position on the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) ahead of this month’s Council of Waters Ministers’ meeting of the riparian states.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi visited Tanzania and Rwanda last week, as part of a four-state-tour that also took him to Chad and Gabon, in a diplomatic move to convince them to adopt its position and proposed agreement.

Tanzania and Rwanda recently ratified the Nile Basin Common Framework Agreement that Egypt opposes, as it lobbies for its own renegotiated and updated CFA that, it says, addresses its concerns.

While in Tanzania, President John Magufuli expressed his country’s understanding of the importance of the River Nile to Egypt as its main source of fresh water, but failed to make a commitment in support of Egypt’s position.

“I believe that the Nile Basin countries will reach an agreement that all parties would accept. We have agreed to continue negotiations over this issue,” President Magufuli said during a joint press conference with President Al-Sisi.

The Egyptian leader admitted that they could not reach an agreement during the meeting, but both agreed on further negotiations over how best to handle the Nile Basin issue.

“We will offer our support to the Nile Basin countries so that all parties achieve the maximum benefit from the Nile without harming Egypt’s water interests, and taking into consideration Egyptian concerns in this regard as a matter of life or death,” President Al-Sisi said in a statement.

 

Egypt’s position

 

In Rwanda, where President Al-Sisi held talks with President Paul Kagame, one diplomat confirmed that the Egyptian leader’s visit was aimed at cementing Egypt’s position on the sharing of Nile resources.

The two presidents did not take questions from journalists in Kigali but read out statements.

A statement released by Egypt’s Presidency indicated that Al-Sisi pledged support for Nile Basin countries in return for favourable sharing terms of the Nile waters, which he said are a matter of life and death for his people.

“The President asserted Egypt’s support for the Nile Basin countries with Egyptian technical experts to achieve development in these countries, stressing Egypt’s keenness to achieving the maximum benefit from the Nile for all Nile Basin countries without harming Egypt’s water interests, and taking into consideration Egyptian concerns in this regard as a death and life matter,” the statement read.

President Kagame said Rwanda was happy to co-operate with Egypt on matters concerning the Nile and trade.

“Egypt and Rwanda do not share a border but we have many common interests on which our friendship is based. This includes our shared responsibility to care for the River Nile which sustains life for tens of millions of Africans as it makes its way to the Mediterranean,” he said.

“We are happy to cooperate with you and all the countries in the region in pursuit of this crucial objective that we share,” President Kagame said during a state banquet held in honour of Mr Al-Sisi.

 

No common ground

 

In an interview with The EastAfrican, Innocent Ntabana, the executive director of the Nile Basin Initiative, said a Council of Water Ministers’ meeting, where the Egyptian proposals will be discussed in detail, is planned for later this month.

At the June summit in Kampala, Egypt pushed for the regional countries to replace the Entebbe Agreement with a new CFA, but most members were reluctant to accept it.

During the meeting, the heads of states, who include President Al-Sisi, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, failed to strike common ground on the matter.

Egypt has objected to the CFA, which was adopted in 2010 and has been signed by six upstream countries — Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Burundi — though they are yet to fully ratify it.

Instead, the North African country has proposed its own terms to ensure maximum utilisation of Nile resources, while maintaining a colonial agreement that gives it a lion’s share of the Nile.

Cairo had the backing of Khartoum but the recent fallout between Sudan and Egypt over alleged political interference and territorial disputes have left it on its own.

Egypt is seeking to have an alternative agreement signed by the heads of states, which will accommodate a number of principles governing the management of the Nile water.

This new agreement, which it failed to push through at the Entebbe talks in June will also set up the main lines of co-operation and decision-making mechanisms in relation to any project on the river.

Cairo’s main drive is that, as much as the 2010 Entebbe agreement was binding, it is yet to be final, as not all signatory countries have ratified it.

The Nile Basin countries dispute Egypt’s historic share of the Nile water. There are plans to set up the Nile Basin Commission to enforce demands of equitable utilisation of the Nile waters.

 

Nile Basin Initiative

 

Born almost two decades ago in Dar es Salaam, following the signing of the minutes of the meeting by nine of the Nile ministers of water resources in attendance, the NBI sought to foster co-operation and sustainable development of the Nile for the benefit of all the inhabitants of those countries.

However in 2010, major differences occurred amongst countries over water security, championed by Egypt and Sudan. This created an impasse.

In 2010, it was Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda that signed the Co-operative Framework Agreement (CFA) and were a year later to be joined by Kenya and Burundi.

The CFA has since been ratified by Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania but it requires a total of six instruments of ratification to enter into force. To date, Sudan and Egypt continue to reject the CFA.

Kampala is the current chair of the Nile Council of Ministers of Water Affairs of the NBI, which has Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia with Eritrea having an observer status.

 

Nb

Unless this Egyptian leader recommends these African dictators to keep their countries as green as possible, the cropping desert of the Sahara will soon be all over the continent of Africa in 50 or 100 years. Unfortunately, for Egypt by then, not a drop of water will be coming to this ancient country.

 

How the United States of America spends its tax payer's money in Uganda:

 

Vaccination. A health worker gives an oral Polio vaccine to a child in Masaka District during a recent Mass immunisation exercise. Uganda’s health sector is the biggest beneficiary of US aid.

 

PHOTO BY MARTINS E. SSEKWEYAMA

The United States of America has between October last year and September this year availed $840.4 million (Shs2.9 trillion) for health, justice, education, stability and ensuring the prosperity of Ugandans. This is contained in the 55-page “Report to the Ugandan people”, that the US Embassy in Kampala released this week.

Uganda’s health sector is the biggest beneficiary of US aid spend, with approximately $488.3 million or Shs1.7 trillion pumped in between October last year and September this year. This support makes the US the largest single provider of health assistance to Uganda.

By dedicating much of their support to the health sector, the US government says their aim is to reduce the threats of infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, to improve the health of mothers and newborn children.

The report notes that US funded programmes in the sector are providing life-saving medicines, empowering girls, saving mothers, and allowing Ugandans to live longer, more productive lives.

The US classifies Uganda’s stability as very important to its work in the country and this perhaps explains why it is the second largest funded priority. In the last financial year, the US government spent $279.6 million or Shs951.2 billion in assistance to guarantee a stable Uganda.

Some of the resources were, according to the report, spent on efforts to professionalise Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF). For example, the US provided training in human rights and peacekeeping methods to more than 5,000 UPDF soldiers.

Other areas “to ensure stability” that the US invested in over the year included programmes that promote peaceful dialogue as a means of avoiding conflict and violence. Through legal aid programmes, the US has, for example, helped families to peacefully resolve land disputes and other conflicts, especially in northern Uganda which was ravaged by more than two decades of civil war.

The number of refugees entering to Uganda increases every year. During the period under review, the US government contributed $126.5 million or 453.8 billion to assist refugees in Uganda and vulnerable populations in Karamoja sub-region. That figure is likely to increase in the next financial year.

In fostering the Global Health Security Agenda, the US says it has supported Uganda to develop world-class capabilities to detect and control infectious disease outbreaks such as ebola, yellow fever, and cholera. This too, is part of US support for a stable Uganda.

Health officials are supported with tools and equipped with skills to respond in the case of a health emergency.

With assistance from CDC, USAID, and other US government partners, the US government says it is helping to improve Uganda’s preparedness and emergency management capacity by establishing Uganda’s Public Health Emergency Operation Center and training workers to detect diseases before they spread.

The US government, according to report, invests in activities aimed at making Ugandans wealthier. The US spent $47.5m (Shs 161.7b) in support of such activities. In the report, the US government says $68.8 million worth of coffee was sold by farmers associated with one of its flagship economic programmes, the Feed the Future programme in the financial year 2015/2016.

The assistance, the report notes, seeks to generate a stronger economic climate, reduce poverty, and expand trade and investment opportunities. The activities include efforts to add value to the production chains of maize, coffee, and beans, as well as training programmes and microfinance projects for entrepreneurs.

“We encourage increased trade between Uganda and the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which helps domestic exporters take advantage of trade preferences and provide greater access to US markets,” the report notes.

The US also funds conservation activities which are helping to combat illegal trafficking and environmental destruction, in an effort to protect Uganda’s abundant natural biodiversity.

With one of the youngest populations in the world, the US is supporting efforts in the country to build what it terms as an inclusive, educated, and empowered Uganda through funding of $14.7million (Shs50 billion).

“US-funded programmes in Uganda aim to ensure all voices, especially those of women and youth, are fully represented in all aspects of life and development. The activities we support seek to ensure that every Ugandan benefits from the country’s economic growth, receives a quality education, and has the opportunity to contribute to society,” the report further notes.

Efforts by the US government to promote a more just and democratic Uganda receive the least funding of the five priority areas the US government funds. It is, however, significant given that some of the development partners find this sector unappealing. The US government, according to the report dedicates $10.3 million (Shs 35 billion).

The programmes facilitated aim at building “the capacity of civil society actors to advocate on behalf of their fellow Ugandans, especially those who traditionally face neglect or discrimination – such as women, LGBT individuals, ethnic and religious minorities, and persons with disabilities.”

By training judges and others activists to protect human rights, the US government says it aims at supporting efforts to increase government transparency, and combat corruption.

 

US versus CHINA:

 

US ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac

 

 

In her foreword to the report, Deborah Malac says: “The objective of our (aid) programmes is simple: we want to help Ugandans create a healthy, prosperous and stable country with just and democratic governance, which will in turn produce an inclusive, educated, and empowered population,” she says.

From Ms Malac’s statement, one can quickly decipher the key difference between the approaches of the US and China, the country that is pushing the US hardest in the race to dominate and influence the world, as far as their aid priorities are concerned.

China has on the other hand mostly invested in brick and mortar, with the Asian giant bankrolling giant projects like Isimba and Karuma dams, roads, and the planned construction of the Standard Gauge Railway. China is also funding the expansion of Entebbe airport, and has built the President’s Office building and a hospital in Naguru, among other projects.

The European Union, the other giant donor to Uganda, has on the other hand focused on transport infrastructure, food security and agriculture, value chains and green economy, and good governance.

To understand the differences in approaches to aid between the US, EU and China, one may need to look deeper into those donor countries. The US and the EU countries are democracies for which human rights and governance issues matter more than they do to China, a monolithic state that has been controlled by the Communist party for almost 80 years.

China, therefore, is primarily keen to create and maintain good relations with developing countries like Uganda, with which they may then trade in their quest to access raw materials and eventually markets.

The US and EU, even when they too have over the centuries, since the ages of slavery and colonial rule, sought to control the poorer countries to access raw materials and eventually get markets, now find themselves pressured by pro-democracy lobbies within their backyards to push the dictates of human rights and good governances in other countries.

The absence of such lobbies in China allows the Chinese government the lee-way that its rivals don’t have – to remain unconcerned with the internal politics of its client states like Uganda. The Americans and Europeans, even when their governments have had interests to pursue within poor countries like Uganda that may run counter to pursuing human rights and good governance, will always at least pay lip to the cause.

Ms Malac says her government believes by channelling America’s aid to Ugandans in the five areas identified above, Ugandans will “live up to their full potential” and “this is the future that all Ugandans – regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political beliefs – deserve.”

The mantra of America’s aid, as captured in the report, is to invest in human development as opposed to investing in physical things as China favours.

Uganda, however, gets a lot more aid from China, its biggest bilateral donor which, according to the ministry of Finance, had lent to Uganda $1.099 billion (Shs3.8 trillion) as of June 2017, while the US does not feature in the top 15 countries that Uganda owes money.

The pressure to stay young and fit in Africa is forcing the ruling elites in Uganda to change their Date of Birth as a legitimate procedure:

 

Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma during a recent court session. Last year, The Observer reported that deputy chief justice Steven Kavuma had sworn an affidavit to amend his age reflecting that he is four years younger than his current officially known age. File photo

KAMPALA.

The government through the Public Service ministry has warned public servants applying to change their age to stop it, insisting that such applications will not be accepted. The warning follows an influx of public officials applying to change their dates of birth for unknown reasons.

The Public Service ministry permanent secretary, Ms Catherine Musingwire, in a letter dated February 6, revealed that her ministry had received numerous requests from public servants who want to change their dates of birth.

The letter was addressed to all permanent secretaries, chief administrative officers, town clerks and copied to the Office of the President, Cabinet secretary and head of Public Service, Mr John Mitala.

“The ministry of Public Service has of recent received many requests from public officers for change of their dates of birth. The requests follow the biometric verification of public officers and matching of their data with the national identification registrar,” the letter reads in part.

“The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to inform you that the ministry will uphold the dates of birth declared upon appointment,” the letter warns.

In 2013, Parliament rejected a plan mooted by a section of MPs who wanted to raise the retirement age for public officers to 75 years.

The plan prompted fears from the Opposition that its architects led by former Bufumbira East MP, Mr Eddie Kwizera harbour a “sinister” agenda to perpetuate President Museveni’s grip on power.

The plan also came under attack from civil society activists who, at the time, accused its backers of contemplating treason. Mr Kwizera, a former State House employee wanted to table a private member’s Bill or a motion to amend the 1995 Constitution to raise the retirement age from 60 years.

Last year, The Observer reported that deputy chief justice Steven Kavuma had sworn an affidavit to amend his age reflecting that he is four years younger than his current officially known age.

Kavuma’s case

Justice Kavuma was born on September 29, 1948, meaning he is supposed to retire September 29 this year after turning 70, the mandatory retirement age. The judiciary later insisted that Justice Kavuma’s name was in December last year forwarded to the JSC in preparation for his successor.

Ethics minister Fr Simon Lokodo said attempts by public officers to change their age in order to stay in public service longer defeats logic and asked them to drop the idea.

“It is irresponsible for a public servant to turn around trying to amend age to stay in service longer,” Fr Lokodo said.

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It looks like the President of Uganda is the one leading his African civil servants to play games with their employment terms of  references. Sounds absurd for an African employee to set the terms of employment other than the African employer.

 

 

 

The Environmental Aspects on the Continent of Africa

 

 

 

Environmentally damaged wetlands right in the middle of Africa

on Lake Victoria, Uganda

 

The timber industry in Uganda is very much involved in illegal lumbering: 

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 10 2016

Impounded timber being loaded on a National Forestry Authority truck in Kagombe Central Forest Reserve recently. Both political and technical leaders in Bunyoro sub-region say illegal lumbering denies them prospective revenue.

PHOTO BY EPHRAIM KASOZI

By Ephraim Kasozi & Jalira Namyalo:

UGANDA, MUBENDE. District local government leaders in Bunyoro sub-region have decried the illegal cutting down of forests saying the move has caused them loss of revenue.

Both political and technical leaders say that despite having forests in their areas, illegal lumbering and charcoal burning have denied them prospective revenue through taxation and issuing of licenses to the dealers.

Mr Francis Kibuuka Amooti, the chairperson Mubende District, described lumbering as one of the major economic activities in the area which would be generating up to 70 per cent of their revenue to support local government works but they get less than 10 per cent.

“We used to earn from timber dealing and charcoal burning but the fight against illegal harvesters has weakened. We have now registered a big revenue shortfall in the rather lucrative business,” he said.

“We used to earn more than Shs40 million from forest products per month but currently it is less than Shs10 million,” Mr Kibuuka said; adding the district now relies on petty collections such as sale of agricultural produce and markets to facilitate day to day operations and meeting payments for the councilors’ allowances.

Mr Swaibu Balekye, the chairman of Kasule Sub-county in Kyegegwa District, attributed the loss of revenue to technical people in the district whom he accused of abuse of their offices leading to financial loss to their employers.

He said: “My district is not gaining from timber trade because we are not taxing timber in Kyegegwa. They said that timber harvested with power saws is illegal and dealing in it amounts to smuggling which has made the local governments to lose millions in revenue which would in turn support community growth and development.”

The leaders from Mubende, Kyegegwa, Kabarole, Kagadi and Kibaale were speaking at the orientation workshop for local government leaders hosted by the Joint Effort to Save the Environment (JESE) on their roles in forest governance.

A report by the National Forestry Authority indicates that the country’s forest cover reduced from 4,933,271 hectares in 1990 to 1,835,147 in 2015.

“Forest degradation has far-reaching cost implications to the economy.

For instance when kerosene is substituted for charcoal in urban households, it would result in an increase in the national import bill by $180m (Shs622 billion) annually,” reads the report, in part.

Mr Sam Nyakoojo, the JESE coordinator, said the forum was started to coordinate the flow and share of information about timber and charcoal trade in Bunyoro to stop illegal trade in forest products.

“We have mobilised local leaders, technocrats and other stake holders to discuss and come up with a joint plan and strengthen good information flow to stop depletion of natural resources specifically forests in the region. And to create revenue collection points which will increase districts’ income that would support their development,” Mr Nyakoojo explained.

Contribution

Statistics. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics for 2009, the forestry sector contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by current economic activity prices was estimated at Shs1,038 billion, of which Shs418 billion was monetary and Shs 619 billion was non-monetary. Based on those statistics, the percentage share of GDP to the forest sector was 3.5 per cent.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com