Small scale farmers petition regional states over low budget allocation

By Lilian Namagembe

KAMPALA: Small scale farmers in Uganda appealed to the East African states to speedily effect the allocation of 10 percent of the national budget to agriculture sector as agreed upon in the Malabo declaration.
Through their umbrella body, the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF), farmers say allocating more money to the sector will enable them access finances, market and add value to their commodities, promote organic fertilizers use, enable research institutions carry out meaning research and extension services all premised on transforming the sector.

Mr Hakim Baliraine the National Chairperson ESSAF-Uganda said they have launched a petition to collect over one million signatures to make the budgetary allocation mandatory and effective from 2019/2020.
“We shall handover the petition to the ministers in the East African Community who will sit in October this year,” Mr Baliraine said, adding that the region should not undermine the sector that employs millions of youth and source of food.

Ms Vicky A. Lokwiya, a small scale farmer in Gulu District said government should focus on investing in small scale farmers as opposed to capital development.
“This 10 per cent must go to the grassroots where farmers produce seeds and offer them extension workers,” Ms Lokwiya stated.

In the 2018/19 budget, government allocated Shs873b to the agricultural sector, amounting to 3.8 percent of the national budget.
The National Development Plan II identifies agriculture, tourism and manufacturing among others as a primary growth sectors that will deliver Ugandans out of poverty.
Agriculture employs more than 65 percent of Ugandans and feeds more than 80 percent of Uganda’s industries with raw materials.

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