El proteccionismo inteligente de Uganda

KAMPALA – En una tibia tarde, conocí al Dr. Gilbert Bukenya en su casa ubicada a orillas del Lago Victoria, donde conversamos acerca del futuro de la agricultura en Uganda. "Al cultivar de manera más inteligente", decía, "los ugandeses no sólo pueden cosechar más, sino ganar más dinero".

Trabajar de manera más inteligente no es un eslogan vacío; es la clave para modernizar la agricultura de Uganda. Partidario de la autosuficiencia para Uganda, Bukenya quiere que los ugandeses coman más arroz cultivado en el país, impulsando de ese modo a los agricultores y molinos de arroz locales, al tiempo que se libera dinero para otros usos más elevados. Por largo tiempo, ha promovido un nuevo tipo de arroz africano que crece en las tierras altas (en vez de hacerlo en terrazas en pozas de humedales) y requiere menos agua.

Abrazar el nuevo arroz es parte de la fórmula para trabajar de modo más inteligente. Una vez que la producción de arroz comenzó a aumentar, Bukenya y otros políticos ugandeses jugaron otra carta inteligente: hicieron una exitosa campaña de cabildeo para que se aplicaran derechos del 75% al arroz extranjero, lo que estimuló aún más la producción de arroz local, que según el Ministerio de Comercio ha crecido dos veces y media desde 2004, a 180.000 toneladas métricas, mientras que el consumo de arroz importado cayó a la mitad sólo de 2004 a 2005.

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