Buikwe district woman MP Judith Babirye has promised to persuade fellow legislators to increase funds allocated to the agriculture sector in the coming national budget.
Speaking at the launch of One Acre Fund in Uganda in Buikwe district yesterday, Babirye said funds allocated to the sector are very inadequate, bearing in mind that over 80 per cent of Ugandans depend on agriculture.
“Agriculture is the backbone of this economy, but we should also keep in mind that our revenues are still meager,” said Babirye. “But I believe as our incomes and taxes increase, even the budget allocation will increase.”
According to the Budget Framework Paper for the 2018/19 financial year, Shs 831.659 has been proposed to be allocated to the sector, compared to Shs Shs 828.515 billion which was allocated in the current financial year. By September 2017, Shs 169.101 of the approved budget had been spent.
Operating in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Uganda, One Acre Fund is a not-for-profit organization that provides quality agricultural inputs and knowledge on agro-credit to farmers.
The organization provides inputs such as maize seed, fertilizers, practical skills on modern farming methods, and market linkages, among other services.
Since piloting in Uganda in 2013, the programme has served 6,876 farmers in Kamuli, Iganga, Jinja and Buikwe and is set to serve 13,000 more farmers in the four districts.
Babirye’s reaction was triggered by Dr Patience Rwamigisa, the commissioner for agricultural extension services in department of agricultural extension and skills management in the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
Rwamigisa had said that as the country concentrates on building factories, there is need to invest in agriculture to provide raw materials.
“Our agricultural policy is focusing on causing an agricultural revolution in Uganda, and one of the tools for causing that transformation is agriculture transformation,” said Rwamigisa. “My request to honorable Babirye is that she should form a coalition in parliament to advocate for a budget increase for agriculture.”
He added that agricultural transformation cannot be achieved “as long as government continues to allocate three per cent of the budget to agriculture when you have 80 per cent of your people in the sector”.
“Parliament is the authority for provision of budgets; therefore, when we see allocation of these budgets, the blame is more to parliament than government,” he said, adding that the ministry of Agriculture recommends at least six per cent of the budget be allocated to them.
To this, Babirye said parliament is concerned and has the good will to increase the budget.
“He [Rwamigisa] has sent me; I am a messenger, and I will take the message to parliament and more so to the committee on agriculture and the budget committee and see whatsoever happens because in parliament we work as a team, not as an individual,” she said.