President Yoweri Museveni has said governments deliberate policy to engage grassroot communities in Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) by empowering them not only to produce for the stomach but also for the pocket through enterprise selection and mix has pulled 61% of households to a money economy.
“These people are not poor. How can you be poor when you have three acres of land or more? OWC is about waking up people.
Subsistence agriculture has been the problem in Uganda. People producing for the stomach alone where accounting for 68% of homesteads in 2013. That is why I involved the army to wake up these people to use their land to produce for the stomach and the pocket and do so with enterprise selection and mix (Kibalo).
Because when you grow maize in one acre you may not earn the same like when you grow coffee, one is higher than the other,” he said.
In a recent household survey for the first-time, 61 percent of households are now in the money economy.
“It is still a big number but better than where we are,” the President said.
He was responding to comments by Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto who hailed Uganda’s Operation Wealth Creation programme saying it has improved farmers productivity and crop production leading to a surplus production for maize, milk, fruits etc.
“I have been a keen follower of OWC. The people at bottom of pyramid have been provided with grants and inputs to improve productivity and this has contributed to surplus. You have reduced the cost of living here in Uganda. That is something we are keen to look at. We are keen to build from the bottom up,” he said.
Deputy President Ruto was yesterday speaking shortly after President Museveni laid a foundation stone for a multibillion Biological Drugs and mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing Facility at Matuga-Wakiso District. The ceremony was held under the theme, "Making Africa self-sustaining in health care, A Giant Leap”.
“Your brothers and sisters in Kenya are proud of what is going on. Uganda of the 70s was a Uganda of shortages including sugar and other commodities, today it is a country of surpluses. As I was driving here, in the market in Kawempe, I saw surplus fruits. We are beginning in Kenya, to feel the surplus in Uganda and we feel the pressure. That reminds us, that we need to rejog our thinking by building a bigger market to supply deficits in Kenya and surplus in Uganda,” he said.
Deputy President Ruto also praised Uganda’s NSSF and said despite Kenya having the largest economy in the region, Uganda has the largest social security fund in the region.
“We want to pick lessons. By so doing we can develop a huge fund that helps in driving long term investments in your country. I spoke to your health minister yesterday. I thought you appointed her to meet the gender balance, but it is in her right as professional, very intelligent. There is something like public health insurance programme that we have in Kenya that we can discuss so that ordinarily boda boda guys can pay a little fee to treat themselves. We can have exchange programme,” he said.
Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Acheng, the Minister of Science and Technology and Innovation Dr. Monica Musenero, the Minister of State for Investment David Bahati, World Health Organization Country Representative Yonas Tegega Woldemariam, Dei Bio Pharmacy Chairman and Managing Director Mathias Magoola, Dei group Director Kellen Magoola, the USA Advisor on Food and Drug Authority Prof Sarfaraz Niaz among others.