Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Agriculture Committee is planning a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni to deliberate and forge a way forward on a range of critical issues, which they say are holding back the fortunes of the sector and hindering the country’s economic growth.
Speaking recently at Imperial Hotel, the shadow minister of agriculture and member of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Gonahasa Francis said: “We have designed a plan and we shall soon execute it. We as a committee and other key stakeholders intend to meet with the President to present the key sector concerns. We shall not simply rely on the same channels that we have always used.”
While responding to the CSO Agriculture sector position paper on the FY 2019/20 National Budget Framework Paper, Gonahasa added that: “We should exploit Uganda’s agricultural potential collectively without fighting about who is in charge.”
While presenting the position paper on behalf of the CSOs, Hellen Kasujja of the Community Integrated Development Initiatives said government is committing a strategic mistake by not investing substantially in agriculture and as such we are seeing its contribution to GDP shrink.
“We have never allocated 10% of the budget to agriculture ever since Uganda signed the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security,” she said. “This sector has a lot of potential to contribute towards employment and economic growth. If this trend of funding continues, we could run into food security issues besides losing out on opportunities for robust economic growth,” she added.
The agriculture sector has remained vital to Uganda’s economy over the years, given its contribution to employment, food security, industrialization and export trade among other benefits. The 2018/19 budget speech reiterated Vision 2040 and upheld the agriculture sector as a primary growth sector. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the sector contributes 21% to GDP, 47% of total export earnings and employs 65.6 of the entire population.
Develop enthusiasm While delivering his testimony, Gonzaki Mugoya, a farmer and Secretary General of the Uganda Farmers’ Federation said access to finance is still a challenge to farmers; especially small holder farmers and women. “The small holder farmer is not benefitting from the Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF),” he said.
Mugoya asked policy makers to develop and streamline models that will ensure access to credit for small holder farmers. In reference to government’s agriculture mechanization plans, Mugoya was keen on establishing which farmers were going to get the tractors that government is planning to offer. “Let government ensure that these tractors are given to organized farmer groups,” he advised. Delivering the CSO recommendations, Kasujja also said ACF requirements are inaccessible to the bulk of those participating in the agriculture sector; especially women.
“We recommend that Parliament tasks the Ministry of Agriculture and Bank of Uganda to give an update of how far the adjustments of the ACF guidelines have moved towards simplifying access to small holder farmers and women,” she said.
“The CSO agriculture sector position paper on the FY2019/20 NBFP was put together by Participatory Ecological Land use Management-PELUM Uganda, the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), Community Integrated Development Initiatives (CIDI) Environmental Alert and Food Rights Alliance among others.