Iteso cultural leader Emorimor Augustine Osuban has told his Teso community they shouldn’t be categorized again as a hunger ravaged region in Ugandan or even Kenya.
Speaking during the Iteso Heritage Day in Soroti that was also attended by Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong , Emorimor told the community to stop pretending that they cannot produce food for their own consumption and export.
“During the colonial days in 1950s Teso region was leading in Uganda in the production of food. The trend changed when the community abandoned farming despite having large tracts of land. It was common practice to see Teso farmers engage in ekitai (practice of helping others to till land, plant or harvest crops in exchange for a get together where ‘busaa’ and meals are prepared) and ebolo (positive competition). This practice has stopped both in Uganda and Kenya, thus the origin of poverty,” he said.
Osuban urged Ugandan and Kenyan governments to prioritize irrigation saying, “Water from the River Nile is going to waste, yet we could utilize it to produce enough food that could help eradicate famine once and for all.”
He said lack of cash crops in the region has added to the misery after cotton ginneries which used to generate income for the community were relegated to the periphery.
Iteso Cultural Union Prime Minister Paul Sande Emolot tabled six issues to the PM that they want President Yoweri Museveni to address.
They want Tororo County to be moved to Teso sub-region. To avert the looming famine in the region, the ICU wants President Museveni to give Iteso clans the opportunity to undertake small irrigation schemes to avert the looming famine.
They want the immediate release of Ush250m (Ksh5m) which the Government had allocated for the construction of Ere Iteso (royal palace) for Papa Iteso.
The ICU wants President Museveni to support the Kingdom with a double cabin pick-up which will be used to mobilize clans in the fight against poverty.
They want the National Forestry Authority to provide tree seedlings to all clans and schools in Teso region to meet the operation wealth creation campaign kick-started by the Government to provide seedlings for citrus farming.
They want the government to fulfill its pledge of offering 100 (medical and other sciences) scholarships to Teso Youth to study in Soroti University per year for the next five years.
The ICU also directed the government to ban investors who directly attack their cultural values by promoting gambling and other evil social vices.