By Henry Sekanjako
Small-scale farmers have asked the Government to invest more funds in post-harvest handling and storage facilities.
Farmers say they make losses especially during bumper harvests due to lack of proper storage facilities for surplus produce.
“We urge the Government to consider investing more resources to post harvest handling and storage facilities for better management of their produce,” Hakim Baliraine, the Chairperson Eastern and Southern Africa small scale farmers’ Forum (ESAFF-Uganda) said.
The farmers want the Government to allocate more funding to seed management by supporting the farmer managed seed system and community seeds banks.
The call by farmers comes at a time when the South Sudanese Government blocked Uganda’s maize to the South Sudan, saying it has aflatoxins which is mainly caused as a result of poor post-harvest handling.
For improved agricultural production, the Government has allocated shillings 2.2 trillion for food security, irrigation, climate change mitigation, value chain development a agriculture research and disease control, in the budget for 2023/2024 financial year.
Responding to the budgetary allocations for the agricultural sector, the small scale farmers highlighted a number of priority areas which they said have been under funded and ignored by the Government.
“The Government should increase funding for extension to meet the demands for the extension to cater for transport facilitation, recruitment, training and equipping of extension workers for improved extension service delivery,” Margaret Masudro a member of ESAFF-Adjumani district said.
Addressing journalists in Kampala on Friday, the small scale farmers want the Government to build the capacity of extension workers along with farmers’ initiatives like the farmer field schools that support small scale farmers’ extension.
They also want the Government to establish valley dams to promote irrigation since drip irrigation is limited to crops like tomatoes, and other vegetables.
The farmers also appealed to the Government to allocate more funds for boosting of agriculture credit facilities for small scale farmers’ production and productivity.
“The Government also needs to allocate more funds to community based financial institutions to ensure access to cheap credit and construct fruit processing factories in all regions especially in the northern and eastern region to minimize wastage and support value addition,” Masudro said.
In their statement, the farmers want the Government to allocate more funds to mitigate the effects of climate change such as building on the tree planting across the country and the restoration of the encroached wetlands among other natural resources.
According to the farmers, Uganda’s food security and rural development depend on its large number of small; scale farmers thus the need to invest in the sector.
“The 2023/2024 national budget shows relative support for citizens, notably small scale farmers recovering from COVID-19. This budget supports the transition from a raw materials based economy to a manufacturing and knowledge based one, but allocation to human development is constrained,” Baliraine said.
The small scale farmers appealed to the Government to promote agro ecology investment which they said is needed to promote value addition, business growth and employment creation for the youth, women and all Ugandans.
The Minister of finance planning and economic development Matia Kasaija last month presented to the country a shilling 52.7 trillion budget for 2023/2024 financial year.
The theme for the budget, is full monetization of Uganda’s economy through commercial agriculture, industrialization, expanding and broadening service, digital transformation and market access. However, to achieve the its aspirations for the national budget, the farmers advised the Government to extensively address persistent corruption, late fund disbursement and limited balanced community partnership.