The threat by President Museveni to disband the National Agricultural Aisory Services (Naads) programme and replace it with soldiers has drawn mainly outrage from Parliament’s committee on Agriculture.
During their recent retreat at Colline hotel, Mukono, on June 19, the MPs blamed Naads’ poor performance on the minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Tress Bucyanayandi.
“The dilemma we have is that we make laws without policies that provide the framework for the implementation of the legislations and development programmes,” said committee chairman Mathias Kasamba.
In his state-of-the-nation address on June 5, Museveni announced that soldiers would take over some of Naads’ duties, having demonstrated that they could do better.
“Using only a total of Shs 9bn in the two rainy seasons of the last nine months, the commanders deployed in these areas (former war zones) have distributed 11 million seedlings of coffee two million seedlings of tea 464,137 seedlings of oranges and mangoes and 1,412 tonnes of maize and beans,” Museveni said.
“If the soldiers can do this using so little money, why should Naads and all those associated with it fail with these hundreds of billions?”
But Kasamba said military intervention would also fail.
“Naads is [limping] because of the absence of an extension [services] policy, without which even the soldiers will not perform miracles,” he said. “The system of trial and error must end,” Kasamba added.
The MP said the president should first sort out the ineptitude of the ministry of Agriculture.
“When you look at the last four years, the minister has not brought any law there are laws that need to be amended,” Kasamba said.
In the ninth Parliament, the committee has handled two bills the Plant Health and Protection Bill and the Plant Variety Bill, which were tabled in 2010 by the then minister Hope Mwesigye. The ministry was expected to table the Livestock Bill and another bill to amend the Fisheries Act.
“Under the Maputo Declaration, governments including ours committed to allocate 10 per cent of their national budgets to the agriculture sector. We are currently getting three per cent and the ministry of Finance is reluctant to fund the sector because of the absence of the necessary legal frameworks,” said Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja (Kalungu East).
Politics at play:
The MPs are also unhappy that Bucyanayandi has failed to table the agricultural policy which was passed by cabinet last year.
“Part of the problems of failure for government to give adequate resources to the sector is the absence of a comprehensive policy framework for the sector and investment plans,” Kasamba said.
Bucyanayandi has been away in China, but his stand-in minister Bright Rwamirama (Animal Industry) told The Observer last month that the accusations were politically inspired.
“I think it is politics at play why do they have to tag those bills to Hope Mwesigye? At least I was with her in the ministry,” Rwamirama said. “If they are saying we are not implementing the programmes, I would agree with them because we have failed to agree with the people in the field that are supposed to oversee the implementation of programmes such as Naads,” he added.
Rwamirama said MPs had failed to understand that some of the policies such as the seed policy they are aocating for are inapplicable in the face of presidential directives that, for instance, put the seed sector in the hands of private players.
Source : The Observer