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Govt Spends Sh11.5b On Tractors

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Francis Emorut

In order to boost agricultural production, the Government has purchased tractors and implements/accessories worth sh11.57b to benefit farmers in northern Uganda.

The tractors of both high and low capacity were handed over to the leaders of West Nile, Acholi and Lango subregions to benefit farmers engaged in small scale production.

A total of 27 tractors worth sh3.42b are of high capacity while 326 hand tractors worth sh8.15b are of low capacity.

According to the minister of agriculture, Frank Tumwebaze, the tractors are for promotion of the agricultural production under the “Improving Access and Use of Agricultural Equipment and Mechanization through the use of Labour-Saving Technologies project” of the Ministry.

Tumwebaze explained to the guests that the work done through this project is aimed at contributing to the achievement of the mission which is “to transform subsistence farming into commercial agriculture.”

The minister made remarks during the handover of tractors to the beneficiaries at Namalere National Mechanization Referral Centre in Kawanda on Friday.

“This transformation into commercial agriculture is aimed at ensuring that our people, can enjoy increased food security, increased household incomes and increased exports,” Tumwebaze said.

The minister told the audience that the supplies of tractors to the farmers of northern Uganda is intended to enhance agricultural production and productivity as a key pillar and revive the agricultural mechanization in the country as key strategy of farmers and processors.

The tractors implements parked at Namalere National Referral Centre. Photo by Francis Emorut

Tumwebaze also informed guests that the ministry purchased five heavy earth moving equipment sets to develop infrastructure for increasing access to water for agricultural production (irrigation, livestock and aquaculture).

He added that the machinery is to be used for opening land boundaries, improvement and construction of farm access roads and to enhance agricultural mechanization services through bush clearing, ploughing, agro processing and value addition.

He pointed out that heavy earth moving equipment sets is also intended to address the key water challenges in the country.

Tumwebaze noted that in northern Uganda the major challenge to production and productivity is climate change in addition to other challenges like pests, diseases and vectors, limited access to highly-productive breeds and limited access to water and mechanization for agricultural production.

He informed the audience that the ministry has been providing services of heavy earth moving equipment on subsidized costs and community services improvement model for construction and development of water harvesting and storage facilities (dams, valley tanks, fish ponds and cannels), deep production well drilling, bush clearing/land opening, opening and improvement of farm access roads, and supporting the development of other on farm infrastructure and structures in many districts in the country.

He said under this project, his ministry has assessed and mapped out many of the districts key sites suitable for mechanization, development and construction of the water harvesting and storage facilities in the region.

“This is geared towards provision of equipment for precision agricultural, water for livestock, irrigation and fish farming after successful construction and development of the identified sites using the ministry heavy earth moving equipment sets,” he stated.

The Minister appealed those involved in using the tractors and implements units to use them effectively and efficiently as stipulated in the Memorandum of understanding to be signed with the groups/large scale farmers or institutions.

He warned them against misusing tractors.

“Please don’t divert the equipment for transportation on commercial purposes as this will lead to cancellation of the MOU and recalling of the tractors and implements back,” Tumwebaze said.

The minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao, who represented President Yoweri Museveni, in the official handover ceremony of tractors thanked the government for the gesture and appealed for more support.

“Acholi people mean well for Uganda. We love Uganda. We are patriotic,” Map said.

He said the provision of the tractors and implements to the people of northern Uganda will boost agricultural production.

“This is a catalytic intervention we have been lagging behind and we are going to take advantage of economies of scale for production,” Mai said.

Commenting on Balaalo, Mao said they are not a tribe but nomads and they have to leave the land they have occupied in Acholi subregion according to the President’s directive.   “They hide their cattle in fenced places and break fences of the other residents farms. This is not a debate about tribe of Balaalo. The Balaalo will leave the land. The matter is going to be sorted out,” Mao told guests.

Mao appealed to the Northern Parliamentarian caucus to lobby for more funds to aid the people of Northern Uganda especially equipment for clearing the bushes.

The Permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Major. Gen David Kasula Kyomukana explained to the guests that the big tractor cultivates two and half acres of land per hour while the small tractor cultivates eight acres of land per day.

“If you want to ramp up production then the way to go is use of tractors and the big one is 1000 times efficient than hand hoe,” Kasula said.

The Government Chief Whip, Hamson Obua said the supplies of tractors to people of Northern Uganda is National Resistance Movement Manifesto 2021-2026 fulfillment.

“NRM is working 24/7 to entrench itself in power to ensure there is continuity,” Obua stated.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Yumbe LC5 chairperson Abdul Asiku asked the government to purchase more tractors so that each subcounty has a tractor.

Asiku pointed out that the 27 tractors given per each district was  going to give ‘headache’ to the leaders on which criteria they would use to ensure its optimal use

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