By Agnes Nantambi
The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) needs about sh300b annually in order for it to carry out impactful research.
This is according to Dr Yonah Baguma, the acting director general.
According to Dr Baguma, the research body is currently constrained with inadequate funding.
Speaking during the end-of-year stakeholders’ visit to the National Agricultural Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) at Nakyesasa in Wakiso district, Dr Baguma applauded the Government for the continuous financial support, but said this is still inadequate to cause an impact.
“With the little that the Government has extended to us, we have been able to do the much that you see, but with a little more, we can deliver more. As NARO, for us to be able to do meaningful and impactful research on an annual basis, according to our strategic plan, we need a total of sh300b,” he said.
According to Baguma, NARO has been receiving between sh120b and sh140b, which he said is hardly below the low level of funding.
“What we call low level of funding for NARO is sh150b, the medium level is sh200b and the optimum level, which is aligned to the agri-industrialisation chapter, is sh300b.
“For NARO to be able to contribute meaningfully and realise the attainment of the goals and objectives of agri-industrialisation, we need a minimum investment of sh300b,” he said.
NARO focuses on four subsectors — crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, including other cross-cutting areas.
Dr Baguma said in terms of investments, they have invested more in the crop sub-sector, followed by livestock and fisheries, with the forest sub-sector being the least.
He explained that investment in the livestock sub-sector has increased over the last few years.
Baguma explained that the demand for livestock and livestock-based products is on the increase amidst increased urbanisation in the country.
“In our families today, the little children will kindly tell you that they do not eat groundnuts stew or beans, but the only thing they can eat is meat. Others will tell you that they don’t take black tea without milk, why? That is a sign that the demand for livestock-based products is on the increase,” he said.
Dr Baguma added, “When we hear such voices, it is informing decision at the government level in the way we should invest — more should be invested in the livestock sector because whatever we do is to meet the demand for the people we serve. As NARO, we are placing the request for increased funding for the livestock research.”
He observed the need to look at livestock in a broad sense and make meaningful investment in the sub-sector. This, he said, calls for building the requisite human resource.
“We have tended largely to concentrate on cattle, but cattle in itself is not livestock in entirety, livestock is such a broad sub-sector, we have hardly done anything on piggery, with the exemption of the little work we are doing on swine fever vaccine. We need to intensify work in goats, sheep, rabbits, grasshoppers and other things.”
While giving a keynote address, Dr Fred Muhumuza, a renowned economist at Makerere University, underscored the need to increase capacity building among scientists in order to realise quality research.
He challenged the scientists to come up with proper seeds and acaricides in order to end hunger and poverty.
“Science is the way to go and deals with the enemies of state and the only way to convince President Museveni is by saying that pathogens are worse than Lakwena rebels, who need to be treated like the enemies of state,” he said.