Sunday May 11 2014

Agriculture funding short by Shs800b

By Yasiin Mugerwa

A funding shortfall of more than Shs800b in the 2014/15 agriculture budget will not allow farmers to receive free seeds, planting materials, fertilisers and other farm inputs which are critical to the country’s strategic interventions in the sector.

Latest details from ministry of Agriculture show Shs4b was not provided for in the budget to supplement World Bank efforts in containing the Banana Bacterial wilt and other diseases coupled with climate variability.
An additional Shs12b is also needed to help farmers fight foot and mouth disease.

Thus, unless government finds the money to close the gap, the ministry says in its budget submission to Parliament, “These and other diseases will continue to affect and threaten the banana industry development in all the banana growing areas of Uganda”.

In the 2012/13 Financial Year, government prioritised the need to avail farm inputs in the 2013/14 Financial Year at household level but it only provided Shs67b out of the required Shs881.96b.
The Ministry of Finance allocated Shs430b to the agriculture sector up from Shs405.3b in the current financial year, according to the budget proposal.

However, information available reveals the ministry has a funding gap of Shs816.96b in the medium-term.

MPs who spoke to the Daily Monitor at the weekend, warned that the continued poor funding of agriculture puts Uganda at risk of plunging into a food crisis and further dampen government’s efforts to fight unemployment and increasing household incomes.

Core livelihood
“Agriculture is the core livelihood of most households in Uganda, yet funding to the sector does not match this fact,” said shadow finance minister Geoffrey Ekanya of Tororo.

With nearly three-quarters of households dependent on agriculture, MPs advise that the sector should be made central to government’s strategy for meeting its main challenges of reducing poverty and fostering broader economic growth.

Without addressing the funding needs to the sector, Finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka said, in her 2014/15 Budget Framework Paper to Parliament “agriculture is still the under-exploited mainstay of this economy, employing more than 70 per cent of the total labour force with a total contribution of more than 21 per cent to GDP”.