By Joseph Kato
Kampala — Farmers want the agriculture budget revised from the current Shs823.4b to at least Shs1trillion in next Financial Year (FY).
This, farmers say, would among other things, ensure effective and efficient operations of the sector’s seven institutions, clearing workers’ wages, recruitment of additional staff and containing emergencies.
Speaking at Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG)’s workshop on agriculture financing in Kampala on Tuesday, farmers said the Shs846.7b projected for the agriculture sector in 2017/18 FY is insufficient citing it as the reason why the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) cannot contain emergencies.
Mr Samuel Sentumbwe, the programmes officer at the Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA), cited the armyworm that was reportedly detected in June last year but could not be contained due to lack of Shs2b that was needed to contain the pest before it spread to now 60 districts around the country.
“If MAAIF had enough funds in June last year this army worm would not have spread to almost all the districts. The ministry needed just Shs2b for that emergency and now we need several billions to fight the pest. That is why we need enough funds to the agriculture sector,” Mr Sentumbwe said.
Former Agriculture minister Victoria Ssekitooleko attributed the armyworm to imported crop varieties. She challenged MAAIF to be cautious on seed varieties and weed control chemicals imported since they could be the source of the diseases and pests frustrating farmers’ efforts.
“This worm was in countries such as US. But we don’t know how it crossed to Uganda. It could be because of the borrowing of crop varieties; we need to be cautious,” she said.
CSBAG consultant Patrick Katabazi wondered why the National Agriculture Advisory Services (Naads) continues to get huge amount of money yet its impact has failed to be seen for more than a decade years. Naads is projected to take 38 per cent of Shs846.7b in the 2017/18 FY for supplying in puts.
“Over 30 per cent of agriculture sector’s allocation goes to Naads. Despite this increase however, other supportive votes such as NARO [national agriculture research organisation] are experiencing a decline in allocations compromising the value of investment under Naads,” Mr Katabazi said.
Mr John Kakooza, a farmer from Kyegegwa District, said farmers should always be consulted and involved in procurement processes for agriculture inputs and seeds.
According to the financial year 2017/18 Budget framework paper, the institutions will share as follows:
Ministry of Agriculture – Shs316.2b
Dairy Development Authority -Shs5.9b
National Animal Genetic Resource Centre & Data Bank – Shs11.2b
NARO – Shs84.2b
NAADS – Shs315.7b
Cotton Development Organisation – Shs5b
Uganda Coffee Development Authority – Shs67b
Local Government Agriculture and Commercial Services – Shs51.6b
Kampala Capital City Authority Agricultural Grant – Shs6.4b