Lawmakers on Wednesday made a passionate call
for the splitting of the Ministry of Agriculture
to improve efficiency of the government's management
of a sector that employs at least
70 per cent of the country's population.
but harsh words for the government's performance
in the sector last financial year, picking issue, especially
with the Naads programme, which they faulted
for failing to transform the fortunes of Uganda's peasant
farmers despite financing by taxpayers
in billions of shillings.
At least Shs138 billion has been budgeted for Naads
this year alone, a programme that has been
troubled by corruption and inefficiency.
Mwenge North MP Tom Butiime led the calls
for a splitting of the ministry and argued that
there was evidence to show that
the NRM regime was not committed to transforming
a sector that remains predominantly subsistence.
"There is no focus on agriculture in this country.
Since 1986, there have been eight ministers
of agriculture," said Mr Butiime. "That means
in these last 23 years [of NRM rule] every
two and a half years there's a new minister.
How can you therefore talk of focus?"
Mr Butiime added: "Let this message be
transmitted to the appointing authority: treat Agriculture
as you treat Works, Defence, and Finance.
This is the most important ministry in the country."
Ngora MP Francis Epetait (FDC) threw
his weight behind the idea and said: "The departments
of livestock and fisheries continue to be ignored.
We should have this ministry split."
Uganda's Agriculture Ministry is manned by
four ministers: Ms Hope Mwesigye (Cabinet Minister),
Mr Henry Bagiire (State for Agriculture),
Mr Bright Rwamirama (Animal Industry) and
Mr Fred Mukisa (Fisheries).
Several MPs were critical of the percentage share
of the national budget devoted to the sector,
with calls apparent for increased funding.
The Agriculture budget this financial year stands
at Shs330 billion or 4.1 per cent of the
"Neglecting a sector that employs 70 per cent
of the population is irresponsible,"
said Ibanda MP Guma Gumisiriza.
"We must discuss this point very seriously
rather than lament.
We are the ones who apportion money and if
we are serious on our part, we can say no
and call our chairman [President Museveni]," he added.
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