Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) has suspended the distribution of more than 240 tractors to farmer groups around the country.
The tractors were procured under the second priority area of the 2016 – 2020 Agriculture Sector Strategic Development Plan for mechanization of Agriculture.
Vincent Ssempijja, the Agriculture Minister says the pillar focuses on increasing access to critical inputs that include mechanization to improve productivity and profitability of strategic commodity value chains.
The Ministry says it is delaying the distribution, a week after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga handed over 36 of the tractors to farmer groups in Busoga sub-region.
Khadijah Nakakande, the Head of Communications and Public Relations at the NAADS Secretariat says the distribution of the remaining 244 has been suspended over on-going training of 560 operators still taking place in other regions.
Nakakande says the program will now resume in February next year when the trainings have been completed.
Nakakande says the training will last for two weeks and the operators are certified by the Ministry of Works and Transport adding that they will draw their pay from the farmers’ groups.
Two trained operators will man each of the New Holland and TAFE tractors procured at Shillings 70 Million each under the hope that they will transform the sector from peasantry to commercial productivity.
This time, each beneficiary group will contribute 20 percent of the cost of purchasing the tractors as a way of enforcing ownership and proper management.
According to Nakakande, 40 tractors went to Western Uganda in 2016 for the Pilot phase of the tractorization agenda of government while 36 were taken to Busoga last week. Another set of 18 tractors went to Hoima districts.
At the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) development Management Guidelines to govern access to the tractors.
The document states that farmers will pay 20 percent of the cost of the tractor within two years while government foots the balance of 80 percent. Farmers who are not affiliated to any farmer organization will hire the tractors at a cost set by the beneficiary farmer organization.
The 2017 Statistical Abstract says agricultural sector employs about 72 percent of the total labour force with 77 percent being women and 63 percent being youth most of whom reside in rural areas.
With limited agricultural Mechanization, the sector accounted for 24.9% of the total Gross Domestic Product in the in 2017 and the Agricultural exports accounted for 40% of total exports in 2015.