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Museveni Calls For More Open Borders to Deal With Food Insecurity in Africa

President Yoweri Museveni has asked African countries with support from the United Nations to consider opening up their borders to deal decisively with food insecurity in the region. 

Speaking to a UN-Food System virtual summit, Museveni said free access to markets and free movement of goods instead of controls will enable countries to produce more commodities which they have a comparative advantage over.

The summit was hosted by Malawian President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera at the request of UN Secretary-General Antonia Guterres.

“The issue of food security is very, very important. Man was able to stabilize his life more than ten thousand years ago when he learnt how to domesticate animals and also domesticate crops. That is how people were able to have a stable life. It is a shame to hear that even today some people in the world don’t have food. This is not acceptable,” Museveni said.

The summit was held under the theme; “Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering all the sustainable developments goals.”

Museveni said that Uganda is food secure. “Despite having some things we have not done like irrigation which is only in a few areas, do not use so many fertilizers yet, others don’t use improved agro practices, but we have got a lot of food and other crop production in Uganda,” Museveni said citing coffee, maize, bananas, Irish potatoes, cassava as some of the crops the country grows in abundance.

“Our problem in Uganda is surplus, not shortages. We have a lot of production. Therefore, for us, one of the problems we have is marketing. Because of trade restrictions, you find that we have food here but other parts of Africa don’t have food. Yet we cannot sell because there are blockages,” he said.

Using the examples of Swaziland and Uganda, Museveni said while Uganda produces a lot of sugar and even has a surplus, Swaziland produces even more sugar efficiently. “In your discussions, if you could, look at the issue of free access of markets and free movement of goods instead of controls. If Swaziland is producing sugar more efficiently than Uganda why does Uganda also insist on producing sugar and then put taxes to stop Swaziland sugar from coming here?

President Chakwera said that the covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call to the glaring fragility and inequality of the global agri-food system. “The food systems are crucial and critical issues for Africa. As a continent, we are witnessing increasing levels of poverty, food and nutrition insecurity,” he said.

President Chakwera said he had been requested to host a virtual pre-UN food systems summit dialogue involving a few African heads of state to consider recommendations and suggestions from African universities to inform the dialogue during the summit that will be held in October this year. 

The virtual meeting was also attended by the Presidents of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nusi, Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Akufo, Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Prof. George Kanyama-Phiri, the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy and President AGRA, Dr Agnes Kalibata and representatives from various African countries.    

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