A Civil Society Organization, Budget Aocacy Group (BAG), has asked the government to increase support for Uganda’s agricultural research institutions.
Speaking during a public dialogue on financing agriculture last week, Julius Mukunda the BAG Coordinator said the government mandated the task to the development partners.
Mukunda said: “Financing the country’s agricultural research projects should be a government responsibility. Leaving the research agenda to be driven by the development partners has big implications on the country’s food security.”
He said the donors will fund research geared at supporting the growth of cash crops as raw materials for their industries.
The dialogue was attended by scientists, legislators and other CSO representatives.
Mukunda said the country’s earnings will continue declining if scientists are not supported in their bid to develop new technologies to solve the current challenges hindering productivity.
“Scientist should be supported to come up with new technologies that can address agricultural challenges like the outbreak of diseases. This can be done through developing crop varieties that are resistant to such diseases.” he said
Mukunda argues that for this to be achieved the government should invest in scientific research so that new innovations are developed by various research institutions.
Uganda has a well-established agricultural scientific research institutions under the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO). However because of inadequate funding and lack of farming equipment, utilization is well below 100%.
The five major NARO Research institutes are
– National crops Resources Research Institute
– National fisheries Resources Research Institute
– National Forestry Resources Research Institute
– National Livestock Resources Research Institute
– National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute
To supplement these initiatives are the National Agricultural Research Laboratories spread across the country.
Presenting a paper on Public Financing for the Agriculture Research: “Understanding Budget Priorities for NARO,” Dr Evlyn Komutunga a senior researcher at NARO said the research institutions relay on funding by development partners. Some of the development partners include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which gave NARO a $2.4million grant.
Other donors include the Rockefeller Foundation which is funding research in non priotized areas such as climate change and soil testing. Others include regional research organizations such as the Association of Strengthening Agriculture Research in Central and Eastern Africa (ASERECA) and the Government of Uganda.
Komutunga said Government needs to increase funds it allocates to agriculture. In the financial year 20142015 the ministry of agriculture was allocated Ush430 billion up from the Ush405.3 billion in 201314.
According to participants the budget is too small to finance the sector which is considered to be the backbone of the country’s economy. It was suggested the budget should be increased to about Ush1 trillion (about $36.6million.)
Source : East African Business Week