Ugandans consume more calories on a daily basis as compared to other East Africa Community (EAC) member states, underlining Uganda’s role as a food basket of the region, a report released on Wednesday reveals.
The report, State of East Africa 2012, also paints an impressive picture of Uganda’s efforts to reduce poverty and notes that Uganda has the youngest population in the region, with 48 percent of its population being of children below 15 years.
It also notes that Ugandans consume the most calories, while the rest of the region, Kenya and Tanzania inclusive consume a little less than 2060 calories per day.
“Ugandans’ average daily calorie intake per capita seems to have barely changed between 2001 and 2007, although it remained the highest in East Africa at 2,247,” according to the report jointly released by the Society for International Development (SID) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA).
SID is an international non-governmental organization and TMEA a non-profit profit organization which promotes regional trade and economic integration notes.
Kenya’s calorie intake stood at 2060 while both Rwanda and Tanzania registered some improvement in calories intake albeit small with Rwanda standing at 2054 up from the initial 1878. Tanzania with the lowest intake moved up from 1673 to 1680.
Ironically in terms of food security which is closely linked to food production, the report shows that Uganda outstripped both Kenya and Tanzania which lead in exportation of agricultural products and fertilizer usage per hectare in the region.
“For Uganda this is a clear indication of the greater land fertility that it enjoys relative to the other countries in the region,” the report notes.
The report was presented by Aidan Eyazuke, the SID programme director East Africa regional office.
Also present at the launch at the Protea Kampala Hotel was the SID managing director, Stefano Prato, the TMEA country representative Annette Mutaawe MPs, civil society organizations and academicians.
Eyazuke, Prato and delegates at the conference called for greater engagement and involvement of the ordinary persons in the region for more meaningful integration of the region.
On poverty, though the report notes that 53 million East Africans (38 percent of the region’s population) lived below the poverty line in 2010, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda had taken bold steps in reducing the proportion of their population living below the poverty line, with Uganda slashing it down from 56 percent to 25 percent over the last 18 years.
“However, Uganda’s lifting of 2.3 milllion of its citizens above the poverty line over an 18-year period stands in sharp positive contrast to its neighbours,” the report says.
The report points out that Uganda has the lowest usage of fertilizer and irrigation in the region, with Kenya in the lead closely followed by Tanzania.
Though the report notes that integration by the member states faces serious challenges of a rapidly growing population, food security, an ever deepening inequality between the states and an ever increasing interest in the region, the regions total trade with the world had sharply risen from US$ 17.5b in 2005 to US$37b in 2010.
The report among other things also notes that that life expectancy of East Africans has on average increased by two years, largely due to higher investments in the health sector by governments and an increase in enrollment in primary schools though the quality of primary school education still remains a challenge.
Source: New Vision