Uganda: MP's Want Agriculture Ministry Split

The Monitor (Kampala)

Emmanuel Gyezaho

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.

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

national budget.

"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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