Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Agricultural Advisory Services- NAADS secretariat returned 39.7 billion shillings to the treasury in 2018/2019 financial year.
The report of the Accountant General noted that departments, agencies and local governments failed to spend a total of shillings 349.7 billion out of the 33.3 trillion shillings in the 2018/19 financial year.
According to the Account General, NAADS secretariat was allocated 249 billion shillings and given a supplementary of shillings 10 billion. Therefore, it had available funds to the tune of shillings 259.9 billion for planned expenditure.
However, the ministry of finance released shillings 259.6 billion out of which the secretariat spent shillings 219.74 billion.
Therefore by the end of the financial year, NAADS secretariat recorded a budget performance of 84.6 percent due to its failure to spend shillings 39.7 billion, of which shillings 37 billion had been provided for agricultural inputs.
The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Ssempijja has confirmed that NAADS Secretariat returned the funds after NAADS officials at the secretariat had disputed the Accountant General’s report.
The officials claimed in July that the agency had spent 99.9 percent of funds released.
Ssempijja says that officials at the secretariat told him that they failed to absorb all the funds released mainly due to a prolonged dry spell which affected the onset of the first planting season of March to April.
Ssempijja explains that rains began in April and in some places in May and June and therefore, payment for supplies were not made because some of the inputs had not been procured since significant rains began a few weeks to the end of the financial year.
He adds that though NAADS secretariat asked for authorization to spend the funds in the month of June or after closure of the financial year, the Ministry of Finance refused because funds are swept back to the Treasury by June 24th of every financial year.
According to figures from NAADS Secretariat, due to the prolonged dry spell, the procurement and distribution of inputs were affected particularly for tea seedlings, citrus seedlings, mango seedlings, grafted apples and pineapple suckers among others.
For instance, out of the 61.3 million tea seedlings, 14.5 million seedlings were supplied to 2,911 households in Kisoro, Sheema, Kabale, Bushenyi and Kagadi districts. Therefore, 23.6 percent of tea seedlings were not supplied due to the delayed planting season.
Citrus seedlings for 55 districts were also procured and distributed. However, 1.7 citrus seedlings were supplied out of the target of 6,571, 429 seedlings for 55 districts.
The delayed planting season also affected distribution of mango seedlings from the planned 6.3 to 2.7 million seedlings.
However, the most hit were the supplies for pineapple suckers. NAADS had planned to procure and distribute 11.6 million suckers but only 4.5 million were supplied.
Since 2015, the NAADS Secretariat has been charged with, among others, increasing access to critical and quality agricultural inputs for smallholder farmers such as women, older persons, persons with disability and youth and facilitating farmer groups and cooperatives to access appropriate agricultural financial services.
NAADS procures and distributes (through Operation Wealth Creation-OWC) agricultural inputs such as seeds, seedlings, stocking and planting materials and farm machinery so as to improve food security at household level.
The secretariat procures mainly seeds for beans, maize, groundnuts, seedlings and planting materials for passion fruit, cassava and suckers for pineapples.