By Prossy Nandudu
Researchers from the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) are calling for additional funding to increase research for food security
The call was made by the chairperson of NARO governing council Prof William Olaho Mukani, to the deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa.
Tayebwa was on a familiarization tour of progress in research at NARO’s National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) at Nakyesesa in Namulonge on Thursday.
Currently NARO receives sh166bn annually which is around 0.3% of the 1% of the required research amount, as per the 2003 Maputo declaration Agriculture and Food Security.
From this declaration, Heads of State from African countries agreed to set aside 1% of the national budget for agriculture research and 10 percent of the budget to agriculture production, explained Olaho.
According to Olaho, although all countries in Africa made a commitment to fund agriculture research as the engine of agriculture transformation to the level of 1% of the national budget, Uganda hasn’t responded.
He added that if the commitment was put into practice from Uganda’s national budget of sh52 trillion,1% of that would be around sh520bn which would go for research.
“There is no way NARO will maintain cutting edge innovation, develop technologies and sustain food security without adequate funding. It is therefore my prayer to consider elevating the funding window for NARO to at least sh3bn annually to sustain research,” said Olaho.
Olaho also appealed to parliament to consider the proposed Genetic engineering regulation and pass it into law, to allow researchers release biotechnology products stuck in research stations due to lack of a re research, that can be used for the management of pests and diseases, climate change, malnutrition, all geared at ensuring food security.
Tayebwa was also taken around the exhibition in which researchers showcased different technologies that add value to various products including: fish, Coffee, and production of animal feeds
While at the research institute, he was taken through the livestock feed processing mill, different animal breeds under research to improve their resilience to climate change, increased dairy production and beef for export.
The other section visited by Tayebwa was the unit working on the anti-tick vaccines, to manage tickborne diseases, that cost the country about sh1trilling annually, according to Dr William Nayeenga Ntege, director research NaLIRRI.
Other technologies that were displayed include value added sorghum such as popped sorghum snacks where each pack of popped sorghum goes for sh1000, millet flour combined with orange fleshed sweet potatoes which have vitamin A, green gram which has more protein for all age groups of the population.
To further increase interest in researched technologies, Tayebwa advised the agriculture ministry and NARO to organize mini national exhibitions in the next financial year, targeting 18 traditional zones of the country to market the products, teach farmers about the existing technologies but also attract investors.