Former African Union Commissioner Tumusiime roots for increased agricultural funding as she launches her autobiography
Former African Union (AU) Commissioner Rhoda Peace Tumusiime has demanded that Uganda’s finance ministry explains why the agricultural sector is underfunded.
“When are you making the 10 percent budget allocation to agriculture? This is a decision at a continental level that every government must measure up to,” Tumusiime said at a function Friday to launch her autobiography “My life’s footprints”.
The East African Community states have consistently allocated less that 10% of their total budget the sector that employs 80% of the total workforce and contributes 30% to the block’s gross domestic product (GDP). This after the heads of the East African Community partner states became parties to the signing of the 2003 Maputo and 2014 Malabo declarations that stress the role played by agriculture towards improving food and nutrition security as well as eradicating poverty.
Tumusiime, who has served as Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa for eight years, underscored the critical role of agriculture in fostering overall economic growth through mitigating household poverty and food insecurity.
She stressed that there is need for the government to increase funding to the agricultural sector to boost production which is key to sustainable economic growth.
Minister for Finance planning and economic development Matia Kasaija was chief guest and defended the government’s low investment in agriculture saying allocating the biggest chunk of Uganda’s absolute expenditure on the sector won’t turn around the sector.
The Ministry of finance, Planning and Economic Development (MFPED) has cut the 2017/18 Financial Year National Budget to Sh28.9 trillion, from Sh30 trillion earlier proposed in the National Budget Framework Paper FY 2017/18, which was approved by Parliament in February 2017 and the agricultural sector has been given sh863.44b which is about 4 percent.
Kasaija said the problem with the agricultural sector is the subsistence farming practiced by a big percentage of farmers and a few subsistence farmers who do farming on a small scale.
“I am advising the agriculture minister that since we have our 12 strategic agricultural commodities and we already have zones, people in these zones would be specializing in given one or two commodities on a small scale that we can later export for example Masaka is known for coffee,” said Kasaija.
The book launch was attended by the Minister of Agriculture,Animal Industry and FisheriesVincent Bamulangaki Ssempija, Dr.Patrick Momoh-Nuwah Kormawa the Food and Agriculture Organization Sub regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Amb.James Mugume the former Foreign Affairs ministry Permanent Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service among other dignitaries.
Tumusiime highlights agriculture importance
Tumusiiime also highlighted some of her key achievements which include pushing for the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) an Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all.
“I must report that many African countries including Uganda through the ministry of agriculture (CAADP) integrated the national investment plan and vision 2040,” stated Mrs. Tumusiime, adding that “today we are seeing increased investment in agriculture, more value addition, agro-based industrialization and entrepreneurship in agribusiness.”
She also appealed to African governments to focus on increasing productivity by using irrigation, fertilizers and modern seeds.
“Climate change is here and it will continue to affect Africa than any other region so Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is the only way to go,” said Tumusiime.
Tumusiime who last month, won the New African Woman magazine’s award in Agriculture forpushing the importance of food security and adding value chain to African goods while she was at the AU called for radical measures of transforming agriculture through respecting the Maputo Declaration. The Award ceremony took place in the Senegalese capital,Dakar.