Mr Willy Mutenza, Chairman Ugandan Convention UK has called for the introduction of initiatives to enable Ugandans in the diaspora to participate in the reduction of hunger and poverty amongst rural communities.
To kick start such an initiative Mr. Mutenza, intends to lobby the Uganda investment authority and urge them to launch a joint campaign intended to mobilise the diaspora and interest them in the investment opportunities that exist within agribusiness. Mr Mutenza will argue that each Ugandan in the diaspora should in the first instance focus on the rural community of his or her ancestors
The initiative will seek to mobilise migrant entrepreneurs and diaspora organizations to stimulate the agricultural sector in developing countries, particularly in their village. According to IFAD, investments in agriculture and efforts to better link farmers with emerging markets can have an enormous positive impact on economic growth and food security.
It is in our plans to work with diaspora investors worldwide and local organizations and communities in Uganda. The program seeks to assist and encourage investments by Ugandans in the Diaspora in business opportunities that enhance food security, generate economic opportunity and foster job growth in their rural areas.
We will work to involve Diasporas entrepreneurs, diaspora organizations and key strategic partners to implement projects that stimulate the development of the agricultural sector. In particular, the initiative will seek to identify and work with funders to co-finance viable ideas and models linking food security, diaspora investment and agricultural value chains.
With more than 215 million people – or three per cent of the world’s population – now living outside their home countries, diaspora communities already play a vital economic role in many nations. Currently they remit more than US$325 billion a year to developing countries and, in many cases, have become among the largest sources of cash and investment for home countries, surpassing the sum total of official development assistance and foreign direct investment. In Haiti, for example, remittances contribute upwards of a third of gross domestic product.
In the United States, which hosts the largest number of international migrants of any country, official remittances by diaspora communities amount to nearly $50 billion annually and we need to tap into this wealth by Ugandans in the Diaspora to drive investment in the neglected agriculture sector.
In the short-term, these remittances pay for essentials, such as food, clothing, and shelter, and often constitute more than 50 per cent of household income. In times of crisis, migrants are often first-responders who provide for the increased financial needs of the their families, as evidenced by the doubling of remittances immediately after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2010 flooding in Pakistan and the 2009 typhoon in the Philippines.
Through migrant investment, the diaspora can also play a vital long-term role, as both project experience and research show that diaspora communities are not only well informed about opportunities in their countries of origin, but they are also much more willing than others to invest in fragile markets.