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Government releases sh10b for food aid

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th July 2009 03:00 AM

THE Ministry of Finance has released an extra sh10b for emergency food for the famine-hit north and north-eastern parts of the country, Parliament has been told.

THE Ministry of Finance has released an extra sh10b for emergency food for the famine-hit north and north-eastern parts of the country, Parliament has been told.

By Cyprian Musoke and Joyce Namutebi

THE Ministry of Finance has released an extra sh10b for emergency food for the famine-hit north and north-eastern parts of the country, Parliament has been told.

Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi, who made the announcement on Wednesday, appealed to MPs from the worst affected areas to remain calm as the Government was doing all it could to alleviate the suffering.

“I have been chairing a Cabinet meeting which agreed that finance avails us an extra sh10b. I urge all of you not to quarrel because this is a national problem.” Deputy speaker Rebecca Kadaga said she had allowed MPs from the affected areas to travel to their constituencies to assess the extent of the famine.

She also directed the agriculture committee to constitute an assessment team.

Bushenyi Woman MP Mary Karooro Okurut called for re-stocking the national food reserves.

In the ensuing debate on the State of the Nation address, which lasted up to late on Wednesday evening, MPs decried the dwindling budget proportion to agriculture, arguing that it does not reflect the importance of the sector to most Ugandans.

“Our GDP is high but our people are poor. What is wrong? We should seriously invest in agriculture where most of our people are,” said Katikamu North MP Abraham Byandaala (NRM).

“In Bunyoro, 70% depend on subsistence agriculture. The Government should invest massively in the sector, give subsidies to encourage farmers to move into commercial agriculture,” added Barnabas Tinkasiimire (NRM).

Others called for irrigation and water harvesting schemes to ward off drought and famine, which they said was a result of climate change.

“The Government should invest in irrigation schemes. In Kayunga, we are surrounded by lakes and rivers but lack water during dry spells,” said MP Nayiga Ssekabira (NRM).

Kassiano Wadri (FDC) called for water harvesting, saying it was not sensible to call Uganda ‘gifted by nature’ when the country is not able to feed its people.

Meanwhile, two NGOs have warned that the famine in the West Nile, Acholi, Lango and Teso regions was reaching “alarming proportions”.

The international agency, ActionAid, said Teso region, particularly Katakwi and Amuria, was the hardest hit, with 12 deaths due to starvation reported in Amuria so far.

Government releases sh10b for food aid

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