By Joyce Namutebi and Henry Sekanjako
Uganda’s coffee and banana shambas are under attack by diseases and this might cause huge losses to the country and to the farmers if the problem is not urgently checked, Members of Parliament have warned.
Kajara MP, Stephen Tashobya and Sheema MP, Rosemary Nyakikongoro raised the concerns in Parliament on Thursday calling on government to provide the necessary remedies to farmers because they (farmers) cannot afford to buy them.
Tashobya, who had earlier raised the same concerns to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, observed that the government is spending a lot of money providing coffee seedling to famers, but all this would be lost if nothing is done.
He wanted to know what steps the Government was taking to solve the problem. “Let us spray the coffee we have so that we don’t lose what we have,” he proposed.
Responding to Tashobya’s concern on Wednesday Premier Amama Mbabazi concurred that spraying was the right thing to do, but noted that he did not have details about the response of the relevant department.
Mbabazi, however, stated that they are putting emphasis and focus on fighting poverty in the country side by promoting growing of cash crops like coffee. “Whenever we encounter problems we will find solutions to those problems,’ he assured.
Nyakikongoro warned that the disease that is attacking coffee was also attacking tea plantations and urged government to take the matter up. Both tea and coffee are some of Uganda’s major foreign exchange earners.
Isingiro south MP, Alex Byarugaba noted that 16 million Ugandans depend on income from bananas directly or indirectly and yet the crop has been attacked by bacterial wilt. He accused the Ministry of Agriculture of glossing over the issue.
At the same sitting the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah directed the Minister of Internal affairs to update Parliament on the ongoing citizen registration exercise in the country. This was after MPs raised a number of concerns and queries on the exercise.
The MPs said that the exercise was marred by corruption and other irregularities. Hellen Asamo (PWD, eastern) pointed out challenges that persons with disability face that would prevent them from fully participating in the exercise. “We are being discriminated,” she said as she quoted the Constitution on rights of PWDs.
She urged the ministry to create special desks for such people so that they are able to participate in the exercise.
Coffee wilt disease still a threat to farmers
Farmers adopt sprinkling to fight coffee wilt
Disease threatens world's bananas: UN
Disease-resistant bananas are ideal