Preview – Elaborating Public Action for Irrigation in Uganda: Who Does What, Why and How? By Charlotte TORRETTI

Sketch published in The Independent, a prominent Ugandan news magazine
(November 4-10, 2016)


In Uganda, agricultural schemes introduced irrigation and
rice mostly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Three projects
were implemented by the Chinese cooperation, reproducing
the state farm model of the Mao era. Those schemes quickly
fell aside as the country entered a prolonged period of political
instability and violence. At the time, the “Green Revolution”
was the dominant paradigm behind agricultural policies. In
Sub-Saharan Africa, most of the large irrigation schemes were
quickly considered as failures by the development sector as
they did not meet expectations. Thus, most of them were either
abandoned by international donors and states starting the 1980s
or privatized, following structural adjustment plans. Agriculture
was no longer a priority. Rather, it was left to the private sector
which, according to the dominant liberalism paradigm, would
be more efficient to integrate rural producers to market – thus
stimulating an economic growth to their benefice.
However, since early 2000s, such schemes are once again
becoming a significant public action among African
countries, including in Uganda. This paper, therefore, aims
at understanding this revival of interest, a perspective at the
crossroads of political ecology and political agronomy, in order
to enlighten the current boom of projects previously considered
as failure in the development sector.

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