President Yoweri Museveni has appealed to the people of Napore-county in Kaabong district to protect the wildlife corridor for the survival and sustainability of the animals in the park and for their livelihood, describing the park as a gold mine to Karamoja and Uganda.
“As far as Uganda is concerned, it is getting more money from torusim than from agriculture. Keeping the park is very important. If you want the park to survive that corridor is very important. You have to support the corridor,” he stressed.
The President was yesterday addressing elders from Napore at a meeting with the district leadership and politicians at Apoka Lodge in Kidepo Valley National Park. The meeting was attended by the Minister for Karamoja Affairs Ho. Janet Kataha Museveni and that of Ethics and Intergrity, also area Member of Parliament Fr. Simon Lokodo.
The people of Napore want land for agriculture and are disputing government boundaries drawn in 1963 a move that has brought them in collision with the Uganda Wild Life Authority. The corridor runs from South Sudan cuts across Kabong to Iri-Iri up to Pian Upe in Nakapiripirit district to Mt. Elgon.
According to the Executive Director UWA, Dr, Andrew Seguya, animals utilize the corridor during the migration period for cross breeding and sustaining their existence and strength.
President Museveni, urged them to be patient, and desist from cultivating the land in the park until a win-win solution is found.
“It is now clear that facts are not clear. We must find the truth. There are three important issues to note, conservation, agriculture and environmental protection. We want food security but also incomes,” he said.
The President emphasized the need to conserve wildlife in the park as that will attract many tourists, a sector that generates a lot of income for the country more than coffee.
The President was however happy to learn that the people of Napore own an average of 16 acres per family. He encouraged them to maintain that acreage and properly utilize it for commercial agriculture.
‘I am glad to learn that each family has got 16 acres, this is very good. If you could maintain that and use it properly you will be very rich,” he observed.
President Museveni warned them against land fragmentation adding that it is a source of poverty, as land will be reduced to sizes of plots.
The President also advised them to keep Friesian cows as they yield more milk than the indigenous ones. He further advised them to leave the growing of cotton to people who own huge chunks of land adding that families with little land holdings can adopt intensive commercial farming for better returns.
The President together with the Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mrs. Janet Museveni pledged to organize a trip for the leaders and elders of Napore to Masaka for them to grasp the meaning of commercial agriculture done on few acres of land.