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Govt explains low funding to agriculture sector

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th May 2015 12:17 PM

The Government has explained the low funding to the agriculture sector saying infrastructure development, energy and education are the priorities now.

Govt explains low funding to agriculture sector

The Government has explained the low funding to the agriculture sector saying infrastructure development, energy and education are the priorities now.

By Alfred Wandera & Francis Emorut

The Government has explained the low funding to the agriculture sector saying infrastructure development, energy and education are the priorities now.

Commissioner of planning in the ministry of Agriculture, Samuel Semanda, on Tuesday said the Government will prioritise funding to agriculture sector after infrastructure development is phased out.

"Government has made a deliberate decision to concentrate on infrastructure, energy and education first. I agree that we are yet to see logical flow of the requirement of the Maputo Declaration to invest 10% of the national budget in agriculture, but we need to know where to put the money and who is going to consume the food that will be produced," Semanda said.

The commissioner planning in the ministry of agriculture Samuel Semanda (left) listens to Yumbe Woman MP Huda Oleru (centre) and Kapelebyong MP Peter Eriaku during the East African summitt on financing agriculture at Protea Hotel in Entebbe on May 26, 2015. Photo/Francis Emorut

He was speaking on behalf of the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Tress Bucyanayandi, as the chief guest during the opening of the Eastern African Communities Agriculture Budget Summit at Protea Hotel in Entebbe.

The one-day meeting was convened by civil society including Action Aid Uganda, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group and the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers' Forum to interrogate the quality and quantity of public investment in agriculture in EAC partner states and its implication on ending extreme poverty.

The conference was attended by farmers' groups from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda; Members of Parliament, and officials from various ministries and state agencies.

It was held under the theme, "Walking the talk: Increasing Government investment in Agriculture Sector and Empowering Smallholder Women farmers for shared growth and development towards agenda 2063".

The Maputo Declaration was made in 2003 in Mozambique by the African heads of states to commit 10% of the respective countries' national budgets to agriculture.

The Maputo Declaration was reinforced by last year's Malabo Declaration where heads of state recommitted their countries to investment more in agriculture.

Semanda explained that the Government's decision is cognizant of the competitive strategy to safeguard what Uganda produces to ensure that it is consumed both locally and internationally without having surplus that is susceptible to waste.

Uganda has continuously failed to meet the Maputo Declaration with statistics indicating that the funding to the agriculture sector has always fallen below 4% of the national budget.

The agriculture sector employs about 66% of Uganda's total labour force, and the vast majority especially the poor men and women in the rural areas directly or indirectly depend on it.

However, it is largely private sector-led, with the Government left with expenditure in research, seed multiplication, extension services and disease control.

During the 2014/15 financial year, the sector was allocated sh437b which was 2.9% of the national budget.

According to the national budget framework paper estimates for financial year 2015/16, the sector will attract funding amounting to sh485b, indicating a growth of 11% up from the last financial year, although it is still below the 10% requirement set by the Maputo Declaration.

Weighing in the debate on the Government funding of agriculture, former Agriculture minister, Victoria Sekitoleko, said African countries have failed to adhere to the Maputo Declaration because heads of states are not involved in the designing of treaties but only come in during the signing ceremonies after the technocrats have deigned them.

Commissioner for production and social services in the ministry of East African Community Affairs, Ronah Serwadda, said Uganda has a big implementation gap between what is committed under the Maputo Declaration and the true situation on the ground.

"The declaration implementation is a gradual process. Therefore we need to collectively agree on what pace we want, because we are too slow, but we need every stakeholder to play their roles," Serwadda said.

Peter Eriaku, Kapelebyong County MP and vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, said the Government's decision to liberalize the economy is the major impeding factor to attaining the commitment of the Maputo Declaration.

He argued that by liberalizing the economy wholly, it has left the economy to be run by the private sector which is profit driven.

"We need to start revisiting some of the international treaties especially on economy liberalization so that we can leave some key sectors like agriculture to the Government to control. Even if Government allocated the 10% of the national budget to agriculture, it will not be absorbed because the private sector has taken over most functions that the Government ought to have played," Eriaku said.

Govt explains low funding to agriculture sector

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