Irene Cheptoyek had travelled 300 kilometres from Kapchorwa in Eastern Uganda to Hotel Africana in the buzzling capital Kampala.
The fatiguing journey had not dimmed the spark in in her eyes, when she confronted agricultural minister Hon. Bright Rwamirama and a packed conference hall with the fact, that the Ugandan Government has been running away from it pledges to the farmers.
“They have committed to 10 percent national budgetary allocations to agriculture, but they only use a fraction of that,” she said.
Irene Cheptoyek also highlighted, that the government spends lots of money on research, but that none of the smallholder farmers benefits.
“We account for 75 percent of the population, but they treat us like we do not exist. The elections are coming up soon, and I hope that all farmers will vote for politicians who will commit to improving our lives,” she said.
Hon. Bright Rwamirama agreed with Irene Cheptoyek – at least to a certain extent:
“Our Government has ensured that we have the best research in the East African region. The problem is implementation,” he said.
The minister also admitted that the budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector have been relatively small.
“We have simple chosen to prioritize other sectors first. We are for instance improving the infrastructure everywhere and those initiatives will also benefit farmers,” he said.
Uganda National Farmers’ Federation (UNFFE), Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform (UFCVP), Agency for Transformation (AfT), and ActionAid Uganda are some of the organisations that have united Ugandan farmers and their demands.
In the manifesto, farmer’s demands are clustered to resolve five issues: Water for Agricultural Production; Agricultural Extension and Research; Agricultural Financing; Market Access and Co-operatives; Strengthening Regulation on Agro-inputs.
Read the full manifesto here and see pictures from the launch below.