By Patrick Okino
The National Agricultural Research Organization, one of the agencies implementing the government’s strategic mass food and seed production has raised concerns over the delay of the sh15b supplementary budget for the project.
The director of Ngetta Zonal agricultural research and development institute in Lira City, Dr Laban Turygenda said under disbursement of funds started hitting them hard in the last season where they planned for 300 acres of soybean and maize but ended up with only 196.
This season, Dr Turygenda said, they planned for 270 acres of maize and soybean with high expectation of bumper harvest but due to lack of adequate funds they slashed down to 90 acres.
Last year the government approved sh176b to enhance the production of four major crops in order to avert food insecurity in the country.
Uganda Prison Service, Uganda People’s Defence Forces, NARO, National Enterprise Corporation and National Animal Genetic Resource Center and Data Bank were identified to implement the project.
They were tasked to produce enough food for the country and ensure there is surplus for emergencies according to the government. The targeted crops were bean, maize, soybean and sorghum.
Dr Turygenda said the Government directed them to use available money in their custody to catch up with planting season while they wait for supplementary budget but since then nothing has materialized.
“We were told to use the NARO money but our efforts got strained because of finances and we ploughed only 90 acres then planted,” he said.
He said the challenges of underfunding is not only affecting the institute but other agencies implementing the project.
He added that NARO`s budget was about sh15b and were hopeful to perform fairly this season if the money was to reach them.
“But till now it has not come and we are wondering because as Ngetta, we used part of the money the government gave us,” he said.
He suggested that in case the supplementary is approved and released, they will forward for the second season planting.
He added that the crops are performing well and they are expecting 100 tonnes out of what they have planted.