Rice anyone? Well, not for President Museveni. He prefers Matoke and Millet.
Rice may be a popular staple among many residents of East Africa, but the Ugandan Head of State Yoweri Museveni is not one of them.
“I Prefer our local food, especially millet, but not rice,” Museveni declares in Arusha, at the East Africa Heads of State High-Level Meeting to discuss the region’s Common Market Protocol.
He even wonders why people consume rice.
Much as Museveni does not consume Rice himself, the Ugandan leader has been defending the rights of Tanzanian paddy farmers whose cereal products happen to be very popular in Uganda.
As it happens, majority of Ugandans crave for the rice imported into the country from Tanzania.
First the Tanzanian rice is aromatic, tasty, but even better … very cheap.
Now, the Kampala rice growers and theirs linked dealers are not exactly happy with that.
So, they recently took their case and ire to President Museveni.
“So they come to me and say, impose more taxes on Rice import from Tanzania,” reveals the Ugandan Head os State.
But President Museven dismissing their case, he sent them out of his door, empty handed.
“If Tanzanian rice is cheaper and better, then by all means let Uganda buy it from Dar-es-salaam,” he says.
“I cannot force Ugandans to buy expensive rice sold in Uganda, whene there is cheaper rice coming from Tanzania, we are going to use the Tanzanian products,” he declares.
Tanzanian President, Samia Suluhu gave Museveni a standing ovation for that.
“And it is part of the East African Common Market Protocol, there is no need to compete against each other,” explains Museveni.
As far as the Ugandan Leader is concerned, if one country is better at producing one commodity then let all other East African Member states import it from there.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that there is no way a country or region could achieve prosperity if it doesn’t solve the issue of market size.
“The more goods people can buy from you, the better,” said President Museveni, adding that the global trend over the past two hundred years was to expand markets to guarantee prosperity.
President Museveni observed that Latin America was rich in natural resources yet its people were suffering and flocking to the US to escape poverty due to disorder in the region’s economic policies.
In Tanzania rice comes under various Kiswahili names.
In the swampy paddy farms the grassy cereal is known as ‘Mpunga!’ It remains ‘Mpunga’ even after harvest.
After being extracted from husks, the resulting cereal becomes ‘Mchele!’
‘Mchele taken to pot for cooking, results into ‘Wali,’ the edible cereal serving cooked separately from stew.
But with added spices then fried together with beef or mutton, rice becomes ‘Pilau!’