Food-Rights-Alliance-ED-Agnes-Kirabo

A local civil society platform, the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), has expressed worry that government has allocated inadequate funds towards the fight against pests and diseases for the financial year 2018/19.

Presenting a ‘position paper’ on the agricultural sector Ministerial Policy Statement (MPS) for the fiscal year 2018/19 to the agriculture committee of parliament, the members said that Shs12.5b is required to sustain the fight against the fall army worm, but that only Shs2.5b had been allocated, creating a funding gap of Shs10b.

CSBAG also said that Shs 10b is required to sustain the testing of various tick resistant cleaning Acaricide through NARO and ongoing research in developing Acaricides that are suitable for Uganda, but that the ministry of agriculture had only got an allocation of Shs4b, creating a gap of Shs6b.

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“Shs8b is also required to support the ongoing research in vaccine production for livestock disease control and no allocation is proposed in the MPS for FY2018/19,”Agnes Kirabo, a member of CSBAG, told the legislators.

They further said that Shs12b is also required for assorted animal vaccines to control the spread of livestock diseases, but that only Shs5b had been allocated, creating a funding gap of Shs7b. It should be noted that the annual loss in the priority crops due to pests are estimated at $35-200m(bananas) $60-80m (cassava),$10m (cotton) and $8m (Coffee). This is according to the agricultural risk assessment study by IFAD . “We therefore recommend that an addition of at least Shs20b be allocated to ministry of agriculture for this function in order to safe guard the investment in the sector across the sub sector,” Kirabo said.

Extension workers

The CSOs also implored government to expedite the provision of Shs16b for the recruitment of 1,968 extension workers to achieve the targeted 5,000 extension workers in the district local government. They also proposed that Shs10b additional funding be allocated as non-wage bill to support the newly recruited extension workers and at least Shs3b to skill the recruited extension workers and safe guard the quality of services provided to farmers.

“Parliament should task ministry of agriculture, to harmonize functions and roles based on mandates to avoid competition, contradiction, duplication, waste of resources and confusion of farmers,” Kirabo noted.

On research, the Group appealed to the government to consider prioritizing research as a critical function to realize the objectives of the sector and specifically increase access to critical farm input to increase production and productivity. They s noted that during the FY 2016/17, NARO was allocated only Shs85.9bn and Shs84b in the FY 2017/18 and it is likely to be allocated Shs69b in the FY 2018/19, which according to the Group is not enough for the over 10 NARO institutions for research.

 Irrigation

They recommended that the government harmonizes the function of water for production between the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of water to realize efficiency of resources. According to the CSOs, there was overwhelming evidence of animal deaths and crop failure in the FY 2016/17 due to the prolonged drought.

To their dismay however, only Shs0.884b has been allocated to the department of agriculture infrastructure and water for production, with the biggest portion being donor funded. In their position paper, the members also raised concerns about the limited climate change mitigation and adaptation interventions, to which they implored the government to develop clear interventions of mitigating climate change impacts especially in Buvuma.

CSBAG also said that the agriculture sector has potential to contribute to GDP growth, exports, employment and poverty reduction, if it is adequately funded.

The committee commended the CSOs for their ‘rich position paper’, which the committee vice chairperson Robert Miggadde said will be used to inform the final budget report for the committee.

Francis Gonahasa, a committee member, implored the government to always pay attention to CSOs concerns, adding that they are key stakeholders in enforcing development.

“The government should look at CSOs not as opponents, let us use the information you give us to make government deliver better,” the MP said.