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Inside The Sh644b Allocated To Agriculture

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Moses Kigongo

Whereas agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy and employs more than 70% of the citizens, the Government has reduced the budget allocation to the sector by 37% from sh1 trillion allocated in the ending financial year of 2023/2024 to only sh644.39b in the 2024/2025 National Budget that will be read tomorrow (Thursday, June 13).

The reduction implies that agriculture budget for the 2024/2025 financial year will be less by sh347.522b from what it has been in the previous year.

According to the budget documents from the finance ministry and Parliament, the reduction is partly attributed to the exit of a number of projects funded by donors.

It is imperative to note that due to increasing portion of the national budget that goes to interest and debt payment, the budgets for various sectors have been declining as more resources are increasingly getting earmarked for clearing debts.

It is also worth noting that out of the sh72 trillion budget for the 2024/2025 financial year, sh34 trillion is earmarked for interest and debt payment while only sh38 trillion is left for allocation to different sectors in light of implementing government programmes.

The move implies that allocating sh644b to the agriculture sector out of the sh38 trillion for government programmes/sectors means the agriculture sector been given only 1.6% of the national budget.

Maputo protocal

It is important to note that in the 2003 Maputo protocol, African governments made a commitment to allocate not less than 10% of their national budgets to agriculture since this is the sector where African countries have a greater comparative advantage in the global market.

It should also be recalled that after the 2011/2012 walk-to-work protests by the Opposition and the civil society against the high cost of essential commodities, the NRM caucus passed a resolution to allocate not less than 7% of the national budget to the agriculture sector.

Parliament’s agriculture committee led by Abim Woman MP Janet Okori-Moe protested against the decision by the Government to reduce the agriculture budget, arguing it will undermine efforts to get Ugandans out of poverty since the majority of citizens depend on the sector.

The committee noted that the agro-industrialisation programme, which consists of the agriculture, trade and industry as well as the water and environment sectors, has had its budget reduced from sh1.9 trillion in the 2023/2024 budget to sh1.6 trillion in the 2024/2025 budget.

According to National Development Plan (NDPII), agro-industrialisation is aimed at increasing agricultural production and productivity, improving post-harvest handling and storage of products, increasing agro-processing, value addition, increasing market access and competitiveness of agricultural products in domestic and international markets, increasing the mobilisation and access.

Other objectives include utilisation of agricultural finance and strengthening agriculture sector institutional capacities for agro-industrialisation.

“It is also important to note that, compared to the overall national budget, the agro-industrialisation programme is projected to share only 2.7% of the resources in FY 2024/25, down from the 3.6% in the approved budget of FY2023/24,” Parliament’s agriculture committee stated.

The committee further notes with concern that the allocation to the agro-industrialisation programme is 26% less than the NDPIII proposed budget allocation of sh2193b for 2024/2025.

According to Parliament’s budget committee report in which final allocations for the 2024/2025 national budget were made, the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB) has been allocated sh24.43b to continue doing its work of breeding, production, multiplication and availing animal seed and poultry to farmers countrywide.

NAGRC&DB has been allocated sh13.1b for animal feed production on government ranches and farms. National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) was given sh60b for innovations management and control of livestock diseases, vectors and parasites programme (roll-out of anti-vaccine).

NARO was also given 24.1b for research products and services suited for food, feeds, market and industry. In a bid to develop requisite research infrastructure to support development of products for food, nutrition and industry to accelerate the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, NARO has been given a further sh11.39b.

The agriculture ministry has been given sh24.88b to support the production, marketing and extension of oil palm in Buvuma, Mayuge and Kalangala.

The ministry has also been allocated sh72.65b to support oil seeds research, multiplication and agronomy in the oil seed growing.

In a similar development, sh30b has been given to the ministry to support the certification and production of seeds, breeds and fingerlings to ensure seed quality including the provision of machinery, laboratory and irrigation equipment for seed testing and evaluation under the agriculture ministry.

The same oil seeds arrangement has been allocated sh14.18b for establishing and upgrading seed storage, threshing and drying facilities to ensure sustainable supply of quality seed (storage, drying, cleaning, grading, packaging, branding).

The agriculture ministry has been given sh18.52b for purchase of assorted animal vaccines, tick acaricides, vaccine cold chain equipment and assorted laboratory reagents, consumables and supplies for the control of animal diseases and another sh32.4b earmarked to construct disease diagnostic and analytical infrastructure for quality assurance.

For construction and equipment of zonal agricultural mechanisation centres, sh70b has been allocated to the ministry.

The agriculture ministry has been allocated sh23b for the procurement of tractors, planters, hullers, harrow, trailers, ploughs, rippers, rotavators, assorted equipment and machinery units For the provision of bulk water supply for agriculture production, support irrigation, water for livestock and aquaculture, the ministry has been allocated sh97b.

Relatedly, construction works for Acomai and Atari irrigation schemes have been allocated sh56.02b and sh30.42b respectively.

Mohammad Kanyike, the district agriculture officer of Rakai, made an observation on the issue of pest, vector and disease control, saying there are persistent outbreaks of pests, vectors and diseases, especially foot and mouth disease (FMD), amidst minimal budgets to address the problem.

He said in the current year, many of the districts within and outside the cattle corridor have experienced escalating outbreaks of FMD, which has affected the animal markets, both domestically and internationally. Vaccine cold chain equipment

His take was supported by the committee’s agriculture budget report which indicated: “The ministry requires sh769.12b for the purchase of FMD vaccines and vaccine cold chain equipment for biannual vaccination of the 44 million animals at risk, but only sh11b has been availed in the budget.”

The report, furthermore, indicated that sh15.1b is required for the purchase of pesticides, spray pumps and other assorted equipment for control of crop pests and diseases, but only sh1.5b has been budgeted for.

Geoffrey Rubinga, another district agriculture officer from Kyotera area, observed that global climate change patterns are affecting production and productivity of the sector in the various value chains.

He underscored the need to increase irrigation at all levels thus advocating more funding into this kind of arrangement.

Rubinga also observed the need for more and effective extension services, to guide farmers on the best practices.

Experts weigh in

review of project management practices and financial oversight to ensure optimal utilisation of resources and timely project delivery be done.

“Where extension workers have been deployed, a study should be done to assess their impact on agriculture activities in those areas, so that corrective actions can be taken where necessary,” he suggested.

Talking to New Vision about the budget for the sector yesterday, Parliament’s agricultural committee chairperson, Janet Akech Okori-Moe said: “Whereas agriculture accounts for 23.7% of the gross fomestic product and 31% of the export earnings, its budget has remained minimal over the years far below the Maputo Protocol expectation to which Uganda is a signatory.”

Akech proposed the need for increased funding of key interventions that can boost agricultural production like irrigation, storage facilities, processing facilities, increased mechanisation, extension and advisory services as well as control of the outbreak of pests, vector and diseases.

LEAD PHOTO CAPTION: Agriculture minister Frank Tumwebaze (third-left, front row), handing over coffee processing machines to different farmer groups, co-operatives and individual commercial farmers as Ankole Diocese Bishop Prof. Sheldon Mwesigwa (second-right), whose entity is a beneficairy, looks on in December last year.

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