Wednesday October 15 2014

Agriculture still needs govt support – experts

Though private sector is increasingly investing

Though private sector is increasingly investing in agriculture, there is still need for deeper government involvement in the sector. FILE PHOTO  

By Janet Sandra Birungi

The agricultural sector still needs government support and cannot be left in the hands of private investors, an agricultural activist said.
Agnes Kirabo, coordinator, Food Rights Alliance, made the comment while speaking at a dialogue on the National Agricultural Policy (NAP) held in Kampala.
“The way we are handling the agricultural sector is worrying. For instance, there are no statistics on the sector, we just use estimates to say milk production is more in a certain area. At this rate, the private sector cannot lead us, we still need the support of government,” Kirabo said.

Rethink needed
The objective in NAP is to have an agricultural sector led by the private sector and supported by government focusing on provision of public goods. However, as Kirabo argues, it is not yet attractive enough for private investors to take interest.
“All of us depend on the agricultural sector but we need to rethink how it is being handled. At this point, the private sector cannot lead us because the population is not even involved in production and productivity,” she added.
In his remarks, Tom Kakuba, programme officer at the ministry of agriculture, noted that NAP was the first national policy on agriculture and it is aimed at enhancing food and nutrition security and increasing household income.

Improving livelihoods
In agreement with Kakuba’s remarks, Richard Mugisha, programme manager with Participatory Ecological Land Use Management, observed that the policy is meant to harmonise the formal and informal sectors in agriculture.
“There was no mother policy governing the agricultural sector before and this encompasses all other policies,” Mugisha explained. “It will help in joining the informal sector which has fed us for generations and the formal sector as a way of improving the livelihoods of farmers in the country.”
But despite the good will of the policy, Augustine Mwendya, chief executive secretary, Uganda National Farmers’ Federation, noted that with the proposed taxes, there will be reduced productivity of the farmers. This is especially so since the national budget allocations has been reducing every year.

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