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HomeOPINIONS AND COLUMNSOPINION: Why Karamoja Needs Well Regulated Border Markets

OPINION: Why Karamoja Needs Well Regulated Border Markets

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While many imagine Karamoja to be a desert place, it has a green belt covering Abim, Napak, Nabilatuk and Nakapiripirit districts. The dry belt area mostly being Moroto and Kotido.
This green belt holds a wealth of Agriculture produce ranging from rice, maize, sorghum, beans to vegetables; which the neighboring countries Sudan, Kenya and even Ethiopia benefit from.
Given the weak Ugandan currency and the desire to acquire a good profit off food sales, Karamoja sells off most of its produce through its many porous border marks. This leaves the population vulnerable to hunger since they sell off most of their food stocks. Moreover the food prices are high because of the high end currencies competing with the miserable Ugandan shilling.
In Uganda, there is a Free Zone Authority mandated to establish, develop, manage, market, maintain, supervise and control free zones as per the 2014 Free Zones Act. Nevertheless, many border line regions in Uganda like Karamoja remain unserved but with unregulated trade taking place.
This creates pores in the country’s revenue but also leaves citizens vulnerable to tapping into the trade without regard for food security. The temptation is very high, especially after the post COVID side effects which render purchasing power weak in the realisation of highly priced services and commodities.
Food security in Karamoja cannot be realised when the porous borderlines are open to unregulated trade and the population is desperate to sell all they have in order to meet needs such as child education, livestock health as well as human health among other crucial needs.
With this scenario the green belt in Karamoja will never be the answer to Karamoja’s food insecurity. Besides, some of the top notch farms in the green belt are owned by the elite who have no business producing food for charity, internal sales or low prices, when the border currency meets their financial demand.
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