The importance of Agriculture for inclusive growth is reiterated in various national development strategies but not translated into public expenditures for the sector.
According to a World Bank Report released in Uganda recently, it should be a priority for the government to steer public investments in agriculture towards the provision of public goods such as research and development, extension and advisory services and rural infrastructure.
“Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, the development budget in the agriculture sector declined from an average of 80% to 67%.
“Consequently, less was invested in capital expenditures that are necessary for spurring inclusive growth.
“The Geographical distribution of public expenditure in support of agricultural services shows high inefficiency in addressing inequality.
“The North and Eastern regions require targeted spending to address inequality, end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
“These public expenditures are critical for leveraging private investments in the agriculture sector, as they contribute to improving access to markets, increasing value addition, and enhancing resilience to climate change and variability,” noted Ladisy Chengula, an Agricultural Economist at the World Bank during the launch.
The report “Agriculture Public Sector Expenditure Review 2019” was launched at Protea Hotel by Marriott on Tuesday. The research was carried out in Northern and Eastern Uganda regions from 2010.
It adds that the Government must put the focus on creating an enabling environment for the private sector to participate (market and policy reforms) and on regulating input quality and standards.
Uganda regards agriculture as a key economic sector to support it’s 2040 and the transition to middle-income status.
It recognizes that public spending on agriculture has a pivotal role in equipping the sector to fulfil its potential to drive economic growth, create employment for a rapidly growing and predominantly young population, and ultimately reduce poverty.
Pius Wakabi Kasajja, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) thanked the World Bank for their continued research in various fields including Agriculture.
“We know that agriculture if fully harnessed will help the country to achieve the middle-income status. The report will help us to focus on planning and operations to lift the Agricultural sector in Uganda,” said Kasajja in an interview with EABW Digital News shortly after the launch.
He added that the government will focus on NAADS and Operation Wealth Creation to be the safeguarding programmes that will help the majority of the farmers still engaged in subsistence farming.
“We are committed to transforming the sector from subsistence farming to commercial farming. “Agriculture is a business and it should be private sector-led.
“We will continue to play the facilitating role like organizing the farmers in small entities, organizing the input provisions and streamlining credit services and insurance in the sector,” Kasajja said during his speech.
The report further suggests that in order to achieve growth in agricultural productivity, better access to and adoption of high-quality agricultural inputs by smallholder farmers should be put in place whilst harnessing technology.
Jeroen Verheul, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda talked about the success of Agriculture in the Netherlands saying the tight collaboration between the government, the sector, farmers and cooperatives.
“All these persons with organizations involved in Uganda’s Agricultural sector should unite as one body to connect those dots. The agricultural sector is problematic in the whole world but it should not be an excuse,” said Jeroen.
BY FRANK SEMATA