By our reporter

President Yoweri Museveni has said that many Ugandans remain in poverty due to ignorance.

The President who was speaking during a press conference at the Kawumu Presidential Demonstration Farm in Luweero district yesterday said that Ugandans remain poor because they have a poor mindset and like copying Western culture that they think is superior to theirs.

He said that in the Western countries that Africans admire so much, it is only the rich people who own land while in Uganda people who own land are still in poverty in their homesteads.

He observed that for poverty to end, there is need for people to get out of the traditional way of life and live in a modern way. He noted that in the struggle for socio-economic transformation, education is needed to fight ignorance and lead to change in people’s mindsets.

“The National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government has tried to bring about socio-economic transformation in Uganda from the traditional to modern life, through the introduction of free education,” he said.

He revealed that during the 1996 Presidential campaigns, Mr. Paul Ssemwogerere, who was his main opponent, criticized him for proposing free education. He added that universal education has helped improve Uganda’s literacy rate to reach 75%.

Apart from education, he said, the second stimulus that can transform society is joining the money economy. He explained that there is need for the 68% of the homesteads in Uganda to move away from subsistence to commercial agriculture.

“To achieve socio-economic transformation, our people must go from the traditional way of producing food just for consumption and also produce food for money,” he said.

The President explained that after doing research, he had been convinced that by 1995 all people in villages would have become commercial farmers if they adapted the four-acre model of production.

According to the model, a farmer can grow coffee on one care, fruits and vegetables on another, food crops on the third and grass for zero grazing on another. At the backyard of the household, a farmer can have poultry, piggery or cows and goats.

President Museveni also addressed himself to the challenge of examinations’ malpractices in the education sector and said government would consider creating a police section to curb practice.

A number of pupils and students in the country had their 2017 Primary Leaving Examination and Uganda Certificate of Education results withheld by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) on suspicion of examination malpractices by their schools.

The President also warned government officials that are implicated in the swindling of funds meant for refugee operations in the country. He reiterated that anyone implicated in the Refugees’ Funds scandal would be arrested for stealing from needy people thereby embarrassing the country.

There are allegations that officials in the Office of Prime Minister, (OPM) in connivance with aid workers, have been inflating refugees’ numbers in order to attract more financial aid. The allegations were raised by South Sudanese refugees to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi while on a visit to Uganda in January this year.

Earlier, President Museveni took journalists around the demonstration farm where he guided them on how one could reap big from agriculture.

The President started the farm 16 months ago to put into practice the four-acre model. He harvested bananas, passion fruits and pineapples, among other produce.

The President also visited ten homesteads that have adopted the 4-acre production model and have since seen improvements of their incomes. Mr. Museveni expressed happiness that people in Kawumu have listened to his teaching and adopted the 4-care model of farming.

Mr. Peter Kintu and Sarah Kintu whose farm is among those visited, thanked the President for starting the demonstration farm that they said has taught them new skills such as drip irrigation system. The couple disclosed that the demonstration farm has helped them grow crops even during the dry season and how to utilize a small piece of land and earn more.

President Museveni used the occasion to condemn the practice of land fragmentation among Africans especially after the passing on of heads of families. He called upon people to adapt the European model of having shares in the consolidated land holdings so that property is not destroyed.

In another engagement of the day, President Museveni commissioned Kawumu Framers’ Model Village Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO) to which he donated Shs.10 million. The SACCO seeks to help farmers manage their incomes better by encouraging them to embrace fully a saving culture and borrowing money to improve their farming activities.

The President also said that the government was in the process of reviewing the syllabus so that the numbers of subjects taught at O’level are reduced. “Government has to produce a relevant syllabus and method of teaching,” he said.

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