President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni reiterated the danger associated with land fragmentation saying it is among the obstacles to the prosperity of the Ugandan people.
According to HE the President, the culture of land subdivision among children, especially when the owner dies, cannot support commercial agriculture which is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, as children will resort to sale of land instead of collective investment.
The President was speaking shortly after handing over customary land ownership certificates to 1,537 families and communities across northern Uganda, West Nile and Karamoja in a ceremony held at the Uganda Primary School. ‘Ibuje in the Apac district.
“Now that you have these titles, I want to point out to you a danger to Uganda as a whole. When the owner dies, there is the culture of subdividing the land; the physical fragmentation of land is very dangerous for the development of the land. country. Because if the land is too small and you subdivide it among the children, in the future they will have nowhere to farm,” said H.E. Museveni, citing areas in West Nile where average land ownership in Maracha district is two acres.
“That is the problem of West Nile now. You have heard that the average land holding in Maracha is two acres for subsistence and commercial farming. They have pursued tobacco farming whose revenue from tobacco cannot exceed 800,000 Ugandan shillings per acre per year So how do you get out of poverty, the president noted.
According to President Museveni, both during the colonial era and after independence, customary ownership was traditionally recognized and well known and would be known to all owners of land, although some was community owned, especially in livestock grazing areas.
“I commend the Ministry of Lands for coming out of sleep (niino in Langi) and solving this problem. Because I’m sure you know who owns what everywhere. So why not capture it in a document? And that is what we have done here,” said HE Museveni, adding that “the government will do the survey for all the poor in Uganda.
He thanked the European Union (EU) for supporting the initiative that will be rolled out across the country. The activity is implemented by the Government of Uganda with financial support from the EU and the United Nations Capital Development Fund. Other implementing partners include the Cadasta Foundation and the World Bank’s CEDP.
HE the President said that it would be easy for people with large lands to practice intensive and extensive agriculture which would not be possible if the land was fragmented into four acres and less.
“Here, I really appeal to Ugandans when we write wills for our children; this system of land division is a problem in the future,” said HE the President.
He encouraged families to keep the land together and give shares to their children.
“When they make money, they share the profits accordingly,” he said.
According to the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Judith Nabakooba, the certificates issued are mandated by law and recognized by government institutions, financial institutions and courts and plot mapping used both traditional and scientific demarcation methods.
“Even if the traditional boundary markers are uprooted or moved, it is easy to trace its boundaries as boundary coordinates have also been provided for each title, using SMART technologies,” noted Hon. Nabakooba.
The National Resistance Movement (NRM) government under the current Manifesto (2021-2026) is committed to processing and providing land owners with legal documentation in terms of land titles, which forms the basis for processing 4,006 customary titles for families in the Far North of Uganda.
Further customary titles are to be processed by the government, targeting the registration of 275,000 families, 630 clans and indigenous and vulnerable communities over the next two years.
“Our goal will be to reach landowners in 35 districts across the country. This is the best way to secure customary property rights and thus prevent public outcry, including stopping the abuse, theft or grabbing of customary land by unscrupulous individuals, speculators and land dealers,” the minister said.
Minister Nabakooba further informed the President that the Customary Land Registration Act has shifted many beneficiaries from the subsistence economy to the market economy where they can now use their customary land titles to help them create wealth and get out of poverty.
“With this achievement, ‘Kuchi’ (peace) is back. I have been informed that families and communities have started producing surplus food for sale, including the cultivation of palm trees, soybeans, cotton and sunflowers, knowing that no one will destroy their cash crops by acts illegal evictions from land and the destruction of their land investments,” she said.
A total of 6,393 beneficiaries in Apac district, of which 2,450 (38%) are women, received their titles.
The average area or land ownership of families in Apac district is 4.8 acres. In Maracha it is 2 acres while in Agago it is 8 acres.
Mr. Asanti Odongo, Chairman of Apac District, described the exercise as the final nail in the coffin of rampant land disputes resulting in constant deaths and lawsuits which affect development as much of the land has not been used wisely.
“Your Excellency Sir, research has shown that most of our Magistrates Courts in the region are occupied with land related cases. So this has made our communities poor and unproductive,” President Odongo said.
He, however, warned land committees to refrain from issuing certificates for land in the swamps.
Ms Caroline Adriansen, Head of EU Cooperation and Development, reiterated the EU’s commitment to provide resources amounting to £8 million to scale up this initiative for the benefit of Ugandans.
“The European Union will continue to support the Government of Uganda in extending this project to most of the northern and eastern region where customary land tenure is dominant to further support customary land governance,” said Mrs Adriansen.
At the same ceremony, President Museveni commended the people of Lango for taking olive oil farming seriously, joining those of Kalangala, Rakai, Bundibugyo and Mayuge, saying they will help Uganda to solve the problem of the lack of soap.
The president also touched on irrigation, saying the government has a plan to introduce irrigation nationwide and protect all swamps as water catchment areas.
“We will encourage everyone in Uganda to preserve wetlands and bring water from wetlands to the land. This is what we are going to do all over Uganda. We must end this hunger trade by providing water for irrigation so that we can reliably grow crops year-round. We will intensify this,” HE the President said.
He also promised to address the problem of poor road conditions in the region. Apac now joins Kasese, Nwoya, Pader, Adjumani, Soroti, Katakwi, Butaleja, Kabale, Kisoro, Mbale, Dokolo and Amolatar districts to help landowners benefit from land registration using modern and scientific methods to secure their customary land rights and be able to prove their land ownership.
The 1995 Constitution, under Section 237 (1) and (3), states that land in Uganda belongs to Ugandan citizens and is to be held under four land tenure systems which include; Customary, Freehold, Mailo and Leasehold.
The Constitution further provides, under Section 237(4)(a), that all Ugandan citizens holding customary land may acquire a certificate of ownership in the manner prescribed by Parliament. This way was mandated by Parliament in 1998 under the Land Act and the procedures for implementation were set out in the Land Regulations 2004.