ugandans eprcEven with claims that Uganda is the best fed country in the region, a new research finding now claims that over two-third of Uganda's population is in the horizon of food insecurity because of a high population growth rate.

The findings by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) say Uganda produces less food crops relative to its population growth rate. Speaking during a consultative workshop on the draft National Policy in Kampala on Thursday, a senior EPRC official, Dr Sarah Ssewanyana, said: "The situation is likely to worsen because the population is growing faster at 3.2 percent per annum compared to food crop production which is growing at 2.7 percent."

The high percentage of people being food insured is blamed on low agricultural production as a result of the soil becoming infertility. Dr Ssewanyana explained that a slow growth in food crop is because the soil is losing its fertility, pointing out that declining soil fertility is cited in the Agriculture Development Strategy and Investment Plan for 2010/11-14/15 as one of the major challenges to increasing crop production in Uganda.

Only eight in 100 farm households use organic fertiliser and about 26 out of 100 households use fertilisers in crop production. According to EPRC fact sheet, central Uganda leads other regions in the proportion of households using fertiliser, followed by western region then eastern while northern region lags behind in fertiliser usage.

Now that many Ugandans are food insecure Economic Policy Research Centre and other researcher plus academias are advising that there is need to increase use of fertiliser to increase food production.

Dr Ssewanyana said: "In order to increase agricultural productivity, famers need to apply fertilisers in addition to other complimentary inputs for (example improved seeds) and supportive services like credit and extension services."

It is being anticipated by both the government and researchers that use of organic fertilisers in grain production can increase output by 40.60 percent, but fertiliser is expensive, especially among the smallholder farmers.

During the meeting, government officials argued that the government of Uganda is committed to promoting fertiliser use to transform agriculture and ultimately contribute to sustainable economic development.

Uganda is signatory to the Abuja Summit Declaration of 2006 of increasing fertiliser use to at least 50 kilogrammes per hectare per annum by the year.

In order to concertise the Abuja Declaration, the Ministry of Agriculture is spearheading process to formulate a national policy and regulations on fertiliser.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Tress Bucyanayandi, said: "In order to increase agricultural productivity in Uganda, farmers must be supported and this can only be done through national fertiliser policy. Availability and affordability of fertiliser must be made possible to the farmers through government agencies."

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