By Patrick Jaramogi
The Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries has defended the new NAADs program being implemented under the Operation Wealth Creation by the UPDF, saying it is doing well.
Tress Bucyanayandi was reacting to a new report released by the Food Rights Alliance that indicated that new NAADs program was not any better than the former one.
Food Rights Alliance (FRA), a consortium of 60 organisations that advocate for food rights, food security and accessibility, conducted a study titled “Bearing the brunt of women’s exclusion in agriculture in Uganda’s eastern districts of Ngora and Amuria”.
Releasing the research findings at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday, lead researcher Daniel said 70% of the people in Ngora and Amuria still sleep hungry.
According to the study, only 23% of the women in Uganda own land (have a right to use as they want).
The report also indicated that the Operation Wealth Creation under the new NAADs program was failing due to lack of prior assessment, follow-up and supervision.
“The UPDF are only supplying seeds without ascertaining who needs them. They are also not following up, leaving many purported farmers to sell the supplies in open markets,” said Lukwago.
“Local Governments cannot sustain themselves and rely mainly on central government funding. NAADS that used to supplement their incomes is no more. This has left close to 78% of the people in Ngora and Amuria in poverty.”
While commissioning the study, Minister Bucyanayandi welcomed the findings but said it was not a full representation of the entire country.
“The research was conducted in only two districts out of the over 100 districts, it can’t be used to represent the entire Uganda. NAADs is still in a transitional phase and so it is too early to say it is failing,” he said.
He said in terms of food production, Uganda was doing well, adding that government was doing its best to make sure women take centerstage in food production.
“It is now government’s focus to make food production a priority.”
Bucyanyandi pointed out that foods such as beans, maize, cassava, rice and bananas will now be grown as a priority across the various regions of the country.
It is understood the government earmarked sh10 billion this year to be used for recruitment of NAADS sub country extension staff.
“Government is interested in ensuring that what is supplied reaches the intended user and so far we are achieving that as per the bumper harvest seen so far,” added the agriculture minister.
The report findings showed lack of implementation of the law and policies, failure to address the communal ownership of land that discriminates against women due to men domination as well as failure to address the cultural social and financial constraints that hinder ownership of land by women.
'National extension co-ordination center'
Agnes Kirabo, the executive director of Food Rights Alliance, noted that the country’s agricultural extension services management, coordination and evaluation should be reviewed in order to put a one-stop organization entrusted with the mandate.
“Failure to address the issue may frustrate reforms aimed at improving farmer productivity and ultimately derail the food security and erode the export economy,” she said.
Kirabo, who said the research was conducted in only two districts due to insufficient funds, stressed the need for developing clear guidelines between government and the private sector so as to enhance effective coordination.
“Given the scattered, incoherent and competitive nature of the institutions and duplication of policies and laws, there is need to have a national extension co-ordination center empowered by law to take charge and lead in coordination of the extension activities that will provide quality services to the small holder farmers,” said Kirabo.
The study also indicated that malnutrition remains one of Uganda’s most fundamental challenges for human welfare and economic growth.
The state of nutrition in Uganda remains in sorry state with 25% of children below five years (about two million) short of age or stunted.
The study further indicated that malnutrition is still a key contributor to child mortality in Uganda, as underlying cause of around 150 child deaths every day.
The most common forms of malnutrition in Uganda include chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in particular.
This high rate of malnutrition includes inadequate food intake, pre-disposing diseases, ignorance, poverty, taboos, lifestyles and the effects of HIV/AIDS.
On his part, Amuria (Kapelabyong MP) Dr. Peter Eriaku hailed the report, saying it was spot-on and reflective of what is on the ground.
Amuria district chairperson Oluma John Francis said technology is still so poor in rural areas – something he said must be improved if food production is to be achieved.
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Agriculture minister defends new NAADS program