Once again the agricultural sector budget has been cut in the financial year 20152016 and the reaction from civil activists has been swift and critical. They say productivity will continue to suffer.
In the financial year 20152016 the government of Uganda is proposing to cut the agriculture budget by Ush18.4 billion, about $6.2 million that is from Ush473.7 billion ($160million) in 20142015 to Ush454.886 billion ($153 million) in the financial year 20152016.
During a news conference last week, Transparency Aocacy Group said cutting the agriculture budget will affect research institutions.
It will also discourage the young people from engaging in farming. “Agricultural research institutions like the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) need a lot of resources to support aimed at coming out with scientific solutions to mitigate challenges compromising the sectors production. Such as the outbreak of crop diseases and prolonged droughts. However as a civil society organisation we wonder where [the ministry] will get money if the government starts cutting their budget,” Julius Mukunda the Group Coordinator said.
Crop diseases such as banana wilt diseases and cassava mosaic continue to frustrate farmers across Uganda.
NARO has been at the forefront of coming out with new crop varieties that are resistant to these diseases however.
Caleb Gumisisriza, the Policy Research and Aocacy Officer at the Uganda National Farmers Federation told East African BusinessWeek if the government does not drop the proposal of cutting the agriculture budget, the Federation will mobilise farmers to challenge the government decision.
“As a Federation we shall mobilise farmers to demand for their rights, because cutting the agriculture budget has a negative impact on the daily earnings of the majority in the country who depend on the sector for their live hood,” he said.
He said the Federation is to meet finance ministry officials to discuss the matter before the budget is approved by the parliament.
Mukunda said the agricultural sector for the last two decades has been poorly funded. This is despite the Maputo Declaration which calls for the allocation of 10% of the total national budget to the sector.
Mukunda noted that the inadequate allocation of resources in the sector has not only affected the farmers earnings but also the declining contribution of agriculture to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
During the past four years the allocation has hovered about 3% of the total budget.
Many farmers have failed to adopt modern practices such water irrigation and tractor usage. The high cost of such technologies on the market has not helped the situation. Farmers also complain about poor access to credit from financial institutions.
Source : East African Business Week