Land is Acholi’s richest asset; the people of Acholi have the mandate and hold the mantle to decide on what they want to use it for. Such decisions must be made by sober minds rather than business leaning and corrupted minds.
Now, a one Professor Latigo has turned out to be a Poster Boy for scheming businessmen and unscrupulous politicians who are targeting the Amuru Land for its worth that a common man cannot easily tell, especially during this oil booming Uganda. The People of Acholi must decide what they want to do with their land.
One and probably the only unscrupulous entity known to be targeting Amuru land is the Madhivani sugar conglomerate who in conjunction with some “thinking with my belly politicians’’ are advancing the notion that this land is only good for Madhivani’s sugar project.
I have followed the Madhivani story in Jinja closely, where men and women employed on the plantations, some whom are former land owners whose land was taken away by Madhivani have to stage demonstrations and burn a few hectares of Sugar Plantation for them to get a meager pay increase or basic social rights. Is this what Acholi people want? Be beggars on their own land?
My brothers and sisters i beg to differ, the Amuru land can be put to better use than sugar cane growing. After all, even if the sugar cane increases, sugar from Kakira is more expensive than even that which is produced in and imported from Brazil even after it is taxed to enter Uganda.
Professor Latigo must respect the intelligence of the people of Acholi, other than play business politics with their minds. Can he demonstrate how Acholi people will be better off than the folks back in Jinja (Kakira) whose livelihoods were ripped apart by the fake promise of the sugar industry? How is sugar cane growing going to make the Acholi differ and be better off than the fore bearers of Kakira?
This smells like a ploy for land grabbing and very selfish gains on the part of some people other than to the benefit of the Acholis. Do such proponents of sugar cane growing in Amuru honestly believe that the best the Acholi can do after decades of war and suffering is sugar cane growing? Whose interests are the likes of Latigo have at heart?!!!!
Professor Latigo should learn to respect Ugandans. And for God’s sake Acholiland is so fertile and why not use the Billions staked in NAADS project to help start up serious farms in Acholi? With the shortage of food that we are encountering as a country and the region, Acholi can become the food basket of Uganda and East Africa.
The debate should be on reviving government ranches in the Acholi region not giving away land to Madhivani whose sugar the masses can hardly afford. Sugar cane growing comes with a pack of problems and for the benefit of those who don’t know below are some of those.
The Documented hazards of cane growing.
An estimated 5-6 million hectares of cropland is lost annually due to severe soil erosion and degradation. Soil is a living, dynamic resource, made up of different sized mineral particles (sand, silt and clay), organic matter and a diverse community of living organisms.
Different soil types display different properties, including vulnerability to erosion, salinisation, acidity and alkalinity. Cultivation of sugar crops can contribute to soil degradation impacting on soil quantity (by increased rates of erosion and soil removal at harvest) and soil quality.
Erosion is a significant issue in areas under sugar cane cultivation, particularly in tropical and equatorial areas (where most cane is grown), since erosion rates in such agro ecosystems are usually greater than the rate of soil formation. The physical loss of soil by erosion is influenced by a range of factors including rainfall and irrigation, wind, temperature, soil type, cultivation disturbance and topography.
Economic and environmental aspects of soil erosion.
In agronomic terms, the loss of soil by erosion is a major problem that can affect future yields and ultimately limit the sustainability of sugar cultivation by redistributing or removing soil organic matter and nutrient rich material. Soil erosion also represents a substantial environmental threat from the washing of sediments, which are often polluted, into rivers, estuaries, and marine ecosystems.
Impacts on soil health.
Soil health includes a wide range of biological, chemical and physical variables, but can be broadly defined as the sustained capability of a soil to accept, store and recycle nutrients and water, maintain economic yields and maintain environmental quality. A healthy soil is estimated to contain 1000kg/ha earthworms, 2700kg/ha fungi, 1700kg/ha bacteria, 150kg/ha protozoa and 1000kg/ha arthropods and other small animals. Combined impacts can lead to a loss of soil fertility, a particular risk under cane, which is generally grown as a continuous monoculture.
A particularly significant impact of cultivation on soil physical characteristics is compaction resulting from a loss of soil structure. Heavy infield transport machinery is most commonly associated with soil compaction problems. Loam-rich soils are more vulnerable to compaction than clays or sands, and compaction risk increases with soil moisture content. Soil compaction increases bulk density and soil strength, restricting the rooting ability of the crop, and decreases porosity and water infiltration rate, which can negatively affect the soil mesofauna. Soil compaction may particularly affect invertebrates in the upper strata of the soil, and it is in this zone where numbers of certain invertebrates is greatest. Increased rates of surface water runoff due to reduced infiltration can also alter peak flow leading to flooding events.
Although zero tillage farming can promote compaction in heavy soils, since the soil is not regularly loosened, conventional tillage commonly promotes erosion by exposing soil aggregates to rainfall. Conventional tillage i.e. deep ploughing, also drastically changes soil structure and is probably one of the most disturbing agricultural practices for soil fauna. In addition, tillage in cane cultivation systems has been found to promote organic matter breakdown leading to declines in soil structure and health.
Salinisation of soils is a problem that principally affects cane growers and typically results from over irrigation, inadequate drainage and cultivation in a flood plain or where sea water intrusion occurs. Salinity of soils has been linked to serious cane yield declines.
Surface sealing and crust formation can occur on heavily compacted cane growing soils, resulting in a relatively impermeable layer at the soil surface. Sodic soils are particularly vulnerable to sealing, and the loss of organic matter, often associated with cultivation, can also render soils more susceptible to sealing. Sealing reduces water infiltration and increases runoff, enhancing the risk of erosion and pollution of waterways, as well as reducing the water available to the crop and inhibiting seedling emergence.
Increased soil acidity affects plant health and crop yield in some parts of the world. Acidification is also more prevalent in cane growing areas, largely due to the use of inorganic nitrogenous fertilisers such as urea and ammonium sulphate. Under high rainfall conditions nitrate leaching occurs, which also promotes acidification.
So much can be said as there are more hazards than mentioned above. With such documented facts is Amuru land only best for sugar cane growing? Or it can be put to other more productive agricultural ventures. Over to you Professor Latigo!
Author voluntarily contributed this piece from his blog.