Policy Context: National Agricultural Policy of Uganda
Uganda is an African developing country located in the Eastern African region. Like many other African countries, it is mainly dependent on agricultural production as the main driver of its economy. However, the most salient factor influencing its development is the countrys demographic profile. Ugandas population structure has a considerable skewness towards people of young age. It structure is a result of high fertility rates, as each woman in Uganda has on average seven children. In the past two decades, Ugandas population has increased by more than 200 percent. Subsequently, high population growth rate has been exerting strains on the countrys natural resources such as arable lands and food supply in general. This scenario, in turn, increases the prevalence of poverty and further threatens prospective future development of agricultural sector. Hence, food insecurity and decreased rate of development come as a result of this situation (Obwona 34).
Ugandas plots of lands are sub-divided among children. As a result of high population increase, the per capita access to arable land has been sharply declining in recent years. As of 2003, about 38 percent of the countrys population had been living below the countrys poverty line, while the total number of people living in abject poverty increased by 28 percent in 5 years time. In addition to the countrys growing prevalence of poverty, the underemployment rate and has also been rising which is another factor for crippling the countrys development. Despite providing access to educational services, the countrys unemployment rate remains a major threat to Ugandas development. The country has also experienced a wide range of political upheavals throughout the second half of the 20th century (Gollin & Richard 18).
After gaining independence in 1962, Uganda has seen dictatorship and extreme civil violence from the countrys leadership. However, with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who has stepped into the position in 1986, the country has been enjoying a moderate level of economic growth and development, although it has remained entrenched in local and regional conflicts. Recently, these conflicts have spread to Ugandas border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Kenya. Many well-wishers have given some kind of assistance to Uganda, including the US, which has supported Ugandas military. Nonetheless, there is a persistent war between the current Uganda leadership and the Lord Resistant Army located in Northern Uganda region, which has become one of the longest wars in Africa (Dent 41-42). These factors result in an unfavorable environment for economic growth and countrys development.
As mentioned above, Ugandas development relies upon the success of agricultural sector, which forms the backbone of the countrys economy. In addition, Ugandas agricultural sector is essential for advancing high power capacity in order to drive industrial development in Uganda. The agricultural sector of Uganda forms a unique variable for industrial activities, since majority of the countrys industries are primarily agro-based. Although its share in the countrys GDP has been declining over time, agricultural production has remained very important since it spearheads growth of other sectors of economy, such as services and manufacturing. Besides, the agricultural sector is the biggest employer in Uganda, where 83 percent of women are employed in it as primary producers (Joughin & Anne 23). The global financial crisis has also adversely influenced Ugandas economy.
Agriculture has been contributing immensely to the countrys exports, hence supporting the economys balance of payments and increasing the local currencys strength against foreign currencies. Being an open economy, the adverse effect of the global financial crisis has reduced the growth rates of the agricultural sector and the economy as a whole. Independent research has shown that if the agricultural sector of Uganda experiences a growth of 6 percent per year, there would be a reduction of poverty rate by 7.6 percent. This demonstrates the significant role of agriculture in Ugandas economy development. For this reason, the government of Uganda has been paying close attention to the agricultural sector in a bid to promote its growth and stimulate development through the National Agriculture Policy (Gollin & Richard 34).
The National Agriculture Policy of Uganda has been established in line with the provisions of the countrys constitution. The eleventh objective of the constitution states that the country will stimulate growth of agriculture, industries as well as technological and scientific progress through adoption of corresponding policies supported by enactment of enabling laws. The policy guides the entire agricultural and other sectors policies, existing strategies and policy frameworks for future development.
The National Agricultural Policy provides guidance to all stakeholders within the countrys agricultural sector of economy in order to ensure that investments increase the productivity of the agricultural sector, reduce the level of poverty and further enhance household food production. This, in turn, results in nutrition security, besides creating employment opportunities and overall economic development of the country. A wide range of is also pertinent to the whole commodity value chain from production and processing to marketing operations aimed at reducing constraints of private sector parties. The investments aimed at supporting the private sector also focus on improving access to financial resources and market linkages, all of which are facilitated by the National Agricultural Policy. One of the ultimate mechanisms for enhancing this process is the improvement of the countrys infrastructure, particularly in rural areas (Gollin & Richard 27-28).
The National Agricultural Policy of Uganda stems from the need to achieve a national development agenda for increasing the household incomes, establishing a nutrition and food security as enshrined in the countrys National Development Plan (NDP), which identifies agriculture as the main source of Ugandas economic growth. The policy also provides critical guidelines to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries for planning and investing in the three main sub-sectors of agriculture: livestock, crops and fisheries production (Gollin & Richard 36). These aspects form a basis for the policy implementation.
Theoretical Perspective of the Policy
A policy presents a general guideline as opposed to a rigid decision regarding a certain issue. However, a policy comprises of several decisions bundled together for responding to a problem in a particular manner. Policy is often perceived as an action plan, at times set for political purposes as opposed to undertakings of regular administration. Therefore, a policy is a prescribed institutional plan for a given state. In this regard, Uganda created the National Agricultural policy as a mechanism or an action plan for increasing productivity of the economy, of which agriculture is the main driver.
The National Agricultural Policy focuses on a wide range of elements, as opposed to a mere formulation. It entails processes of implementation and evaluation which are continuous in their nature. Various experts have attempted to define public policy as that which focuses on the general public and its problems and entails studies as to how and why the government pursues certain interests or courses of action. In Uganda, the government formulation of the National Agricultural Policy was done quite recently, in 2011, and was incorporated into the countrys constitution. This implies that the policys success is backed by the state. Constitutional provisions of the country are primarily rights and interests of its citizens and thus they should be in line with economic growth and development of the country. Successful public policies must therefore be entrenched in the public spheres (Greenwood & Cheng 31).
The consideration that the Ugandas constitution stimulated development of the policy in order to facilitate reaching the constitutional objectives is a factual composition that describes its alignment with public interest. In particular, the policy focuses on enhancement of private sector productivity, which largely corresponds to the position of public interests. Public policy also encompasses some elements that cannot be pursued by private entities. These aspects include formulation of institutional standards and frameworks for development, including environmental prescriptions towards mitigating pollution from economic activities. For instance, the Ugandan National Agricultural Policy provides for the investment in the agricultural sector of those activities that may have adverse effects on the environment (Montalvo & Marta 63). These factors contribute immensely to the development of robust framework for the development of an economy.
Some research indicates that an effective policy should be formed under thorough investigation of the problem it is meant to resolve. This ensures that sound evidence exists in order to back the formulation of the policy and avoid arbitrary expenses that would result in unsuccessful resolution of the problem. For instance, the Ugandan National Agriculture Policy was developed under careful consideration of the immense potential of the agricultural sector, especially with its capacity to stimulate other sectors of economy as well as the fact that 6 percent growth in the sector would translate into a 7.6 percent fall in the poverty level. Amidst political and social upheavals in Uganda, the National Agricultural Policy is entrenched in the countrys constitution. This is in line with the pubic choice theory, though literary limited to the constitutional provisions that are grossly expressions of the public interests (Gollin & Richard, 46). The following graph shows the impact of an effective agricultural policy on real economic activities and decisions within the financial market segment either locally or internationally shown through a shift in the IS curve.
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According to the public choice theory, an effective public policy, as described by Gordon and Buchanan, explains public decision-making framework, which entails interactions between the politicians, voters, political actions committee and the bureaucracy. These elements are essential to a policys success. The agricultural policy of Uganda has gone through the majority of these provisions in the sense that it is incorporated into the legal system (Joughin & Anne 78). This scenario is therefore a case of success of the policy, despite various unrests that have hindered the immediate outcomes of the policy.
Evidence of the Agricultural Policy
Uganda is one of the most successful countries in Africa with regard to proficient policies in the agricultural sector. Its policy has resulted in a big influence on GDP growth rate, with growth of about 7 percent between 1990 and 2014. Comparatively, other countries of the Sub-Saharan region have experienced growth of 3 percent during the same period. One of the main aspects that have fueled this growth has been the impact of the Agricultural Policy, since agricultures forms the main source of growth of the Ugandan economy. International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates Ugandas real GDP growth rate of 8.3% for the period between 2003 and 2008, while recent estimates predict a very slight decline in the growth rate. Besides, the National Agricultural Policy which has been subject to recurrent review has also resulted into a decrease in total population living below poverty line from 56 percent as at 1992 to 31 percent as at 2007. This is a major success to the countrys economic development presumed to be a product of positive impact of the National Agricultural Policy (Joughin & Anne 81).
Despite the fact that the country has been experiencing a sustained growth, a recent analysis has cited inability of the policy to integrate structural transformations into the economy. This has been characterized with a lack of genuine change from predominance of subsistence agricultural economy to commercialized agricultural sector and a rise in manufacturing sector capacity. The failure to realize progress in structural transformation has not been created by lack of political will. Instead, it has been placed on the national agenda of the Ruling regime (National Resistance Movement). As a result, the current scenario could be attributable to the inability of the policy to commercialize agricultural processes, particularly through low adoption of new technologies as a result of low supply of fundamental production resources. Politics have also been central to the achievements of the policy in Uganda (Joughin & Anne 86). For instance, despite the critical provisions of the policy, as far as macro-economic framework is concerned, it has yielded quite low results due to the political environment that has failed to stimulate growth through enhanced investment in the agricultural sector. From the outset, the government has been making considerable measures to transform the Ugandan economy but the economy is yet to undergo a structural transformation.