By Joyce Namutebi
PROVISION of seeds and other planting and breeding materials to farmers as envisaged by government will be hampered if government does not provide Sh785b to the Ministry of Agriculture for this purpose.
The Minister of Agriculture, Tress Buchanayandi told Parliament on Thursday that although the Government prioritized the need to avail inputs to farmers as strategic interventions for increased production, only Sh97b out of the required Sh881.9b has been provided this financial year leaving a shortfall of Sh784.9b.
Buchanayandi had led a team of senior officials of the ministry to officially present the Ministry’s Policy Statement and budget for this financial year. The ministry if seeking approval of Sh473.6b budget.
He said the ministry also has a funding gap of Sh12b on vaccination of all animals in the foot and mouth prone districts in the country, besides the Sh4b needed to fight the banana bacterial wilt and other diseases including nematodes.
With emergence of new water weeds on Uganda’s waters and the need to contain the water hyacinth, the minister requested for an additional Sh4b.
Reacting to the Minister’s presentation, the MPs asked the minister to produce a position paper on the recently proposed Value Added Tax by the Government on agriculture inputs before debating the budget.
The MPs further demanded a position paper from the ministry on the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) restructuring and how extension services is going to be handled as well as explanations on illegal fishing going on in the country.
Committee chairperson, Mathais Kasamba expressed concern that while Uganda is the second largest producer of bananas in the world next to India, the banana export earnings did not reflect this position. He urged the ministry increase banana export.
Kasamba expressed disappointment that when the President was presenting the State of the Nation Address, there was no mention of any forthcoming Bill from the Ministry of Agriculture to be considered by Parliament this financial year. “There is no way the ministry is going to have money from the Ministry of finance if you do not have Bills,” Kasamba warned.
Fred Badda from the fishing community in Kalangala told the ministry to block the marketing of illegal immature fish to areas Bunagana and Bwera saying this was the best way to curb illegal fishing on the lakes other than spending money on patrolling the waters as proposed by the ministry.
He urged the minister to deal with the ‘mafia’ who are dealing in immature fish, saying that these people are well known to him (the minister).