02/2017. Policy makers agree to CSO proposals for the FY 2017/2018 budget
BY MARILYN KABALERE, Advocacy Officer
As we (CSOs and the public) continue to engage in the budget process, it is important to note that the discussions on agriculture financing are already yielding results. During a budget retreat that was held early this year, CSOs conducted an analysis of major government documents and came up with the a number of recommendations for the the FY 2017/2018 budget . The analysis and recommendations were mainly based on the budget proposals for FY 2017/18, the Government Annual Performance Report FY 2015/16 and the National Development Plan (NDP) II. The analysis revealed that the proposals made by government for the FY 2017/18 budget were not in line with NDP II. Based on this, CSO recommended;
- Supporting the non-wage vote function for agriculture extension workers to aid the delivery of services and outreach to the target beneficiaries
- Strengthen and demonstrate linkages between National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs) Secretariat (Operation Wealth Creation) and the Directorate of Extension (DAE) and Local Government structures to ensure an effective and efficient agricultural input distribution system .
- In terms of water for production Parliament and cabinet were called upon to intervene in resolving the current institutional dispute over the conflicting mandates between Ministry of Water and Environment and Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in order to fast track development of the National Irrigation Policy and Master Plan while at the same time putting in place an independent irrigation agency/water for production (irrigation, water for animals and forestry). In addition another recommendation was to fast track irrigation schemes in Bukedea (Acomai), Bulambuli (Atai) and Kween and invest more in water projects (irrigation schemes, valley tanks, valley dams).
- Government was to exploit the possibility of establishing an Agricultural Bank that would explicitly focus on farmers credit needs, hedge against risks such as crop failures and volatilities in the prices of agro products. This would be made possible through the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development.
- Distribution of inputs by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) should be conducted by NAADs and OWC to ensure consistency.
- The NARO budget should be increased in order to aid responsive functionality of National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) to meet the sector objectives and the National Development Plan (NDP II) goals.
These recommendations were presented to the Agriculture committee in Parliament which agreed with some of them including; a) having a master plan that clearly states the respective responsibilities for the Ministry of Water and Environment and Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in regards to water for production and irrigation. The committee also noted that b) part of the budget for seedlings/seeds inputs would be re-allocated to strengthen the agricultural extension services. Further still the c) committee recommended that government should fast track implementation of the National Extension Policy and Strategy and avail resources to the Local governments to operationalise the single spine extension system.
The same proposals were presented during the inter ministerial meeting on 6th February 2017 at the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development and the delegation from Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries agreed to reach out to the President for some of the budget for seedlings/seeds inputs to be re-allocated to strengthen the agricultural extension services. In order to address the issue of water for production, government would look out for strategies on how the mandate between the two ministries can be harmonized. This was as a result of the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Keith Muhakanizi clearly raising issues within the sector including the low mortality rates of seedlings given out, water for production challenges, disease control and MAAIF not implementing some projects.
Out of the recommendations presented, a number of them are still pending including:
- Establishing an agricultural bank
- Increasing funding to National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO)
- Harmonizing the distribution of inputs by NAADs and OWC not KCCA as proposed.
As an organization reaching out to smallholder farmers we hope that these pertinent issues are addressed because they are hindering the full utilization and exploitation of the agriculture sector in Uganda as we draw closer to the deadline of Uganda achieving middle income status by 2020.