By Moses Mulondo
The Government plans to distribute 100 million coffee seedlings to farmers across the country as one of its interventions for boosting household incomes.
Henry Ngabirano the Uganda Coffee Development Authority executive director, appearing before the agriculture committee with the ministers for agriculture and other ministry officials, said they started distributing these seedlings a few days ago.
He explained to the MPs that although they had requested the finance ministry to give them money for 100 million seedlings, the money that has been availed so far can only enable them to districute 41 million seedlings.
The committee chairman Mathias Kasamba said they would compel the Government to avail the sh7b shortfall needed for the remaining seedlings.
Ngabirano the funding is justified since coffee is the leading foreign exchange earner for the country generating $422.4m every year. The second leading foreign exchange earner is fish at $117m.
The committee resolved that in their report they would include a recommendation asking government to avail the required money.
The MPs also said the agriculture ministry was allocated a small portion of the budget yet it is among the country’s priority sectors.
The minister for agriculture, animal industry and fisheries, Tress Bucyanayandi, said his ministry got only 3% (382.5b) of the total 2013/2014 budget.
“The Government had planned to increase the budget for agriculture to 7%. Instead it reduced from 4.5% to 2.9%. This is the sector that feeds and employs majority of Ugandans,” said Buikwe woman MP, Christine Mpiima.
In the Maputo declaration, African governments in 2003 committed themselves to allocate at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture. However, 10 years later, Uganda is still far below that minimum.
On food security, Bucyanayandi said the Government has completed building storage facilities in Kakofa in Kapchorwa, Pakanyi in Masindi, Kapeka in Nakaseke, Gulu, Nyakatonzi in Kasese, Amuru and in Jinja.