In the troubled English summer of 1816, James Mill, the utilitarian philosopher, wrote to David Richardo, the great political economist of his time, about the effects of frail agricultural policies on people’s well – being.
Mills was worried about the misery that would be unavoidable as a result of frail agricultural policies, thought of which makes the flesh to creep on one’s bones.
Will Museveni’s election promises of giving out 18 million hoes lead Uganda to real transformation and take off?
The New Vision Newspaper of November 12th 2015 ran a story, entitled, ‘Uganda heads for real transformation, take off’. A few days later, a related headline trended on the Daily Monitor, ‘Museveni to give out 18 million hoes’.
My critique of Museveni’s assertions and election promises to give out 18 million hoes and the take off discourse are based purely on its contradictions with Uganda’s prevailing economic characteristics.
To circumvent intentional misinterpretation, I will draw on the writings of Walt Whitman Rostow’s, the American economist to interrogate Museveni’s assertions and promises.
Considering Uganda’s prevailing economic characteristics, to mention but two; development of more productive, semi – commercial agriculture and cash crops not consumed by producers and/or largely exported, and development of national identity (patriotism) and shared economic interests.
I would argue that Uganda could be best described as heading into ‘the Pre – condition to take off’ stage. Given her prevailing economic characteristics.
Take off stage, would necessitate, increases in industrialization proceeds, technological break through occurs the “secondary” (goods-producing) sector expands and ratio of secondary vs. primary sectors in the economy shifts quickly towards secondary textiles and apparel are usually the first “take-off” industry.
Unfortunately, however, Nytil textiles that usually describe the first take off industries have either been relegated to industrial museum of Uganda or liquidated.
But, why has it taken our electorates and farmers such a long time to ask the question; what happened to the plan for modernization of agriculture? Will 18 million hoes modernize agriculture and lead Uganda to take off?
In trying to provide a response, allow me to quote a great African, Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey an intellectual, missionary and a Ghanaian teacher, ‘that a long time ago, a farmer went into the field, he was a poultry farmer.
When he went into the field, he caught a bird, a big bird. He brought it home. Mixed the bird with his chicken and his ducks and his other poultry and for a long time he fed the bird on chicken feeds.
And after 5 years, a naturalist visited his farm and he looked at the bird and said this is not a chicken. And, he told him, yes, its not a chicken, it used to be an eagle. But I have fed it on chicken feed for so long and it has now become a chicken and it cannot regain its eagle-hood.
The naturalist said no once an eagle, always an eagle. And he said let us test it out. On three different occasions he tried to test it that it may fly but it refused to fly. And the farmer said sarcastically, I told you once an eagle fed on chicken feed now a chicken.
On the third day, he tried again in the morning and place the eagle on its path, raised it heads towards the sun and long behold it flew and flew again. And the naturalist said I told you no-matter how long you feed an eagle on chicken feed it never loses its eagle-hood.
Our farmer’s and electorates for a long time have been fed on chicken feed. I want to demonstrate to them that they are not chicken but eagles. They can fly again.
Electorates need to scrutinize presidential candidates’ electoral promises to determine if these hoes will lead Uganda into agricultural modernization and real transformation, take off.
Walter Ochanda, the author, is an International Development Specialist