Uganda has defended its move to giveaway land belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture, line agencies and ranches to investors arguing that the decision is meant to help the country to have good and high quality supply of Agricultural inputs.
Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempija, the Uganda Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries said the land in question is given out to investors for massive breeding of inputs for both crops and Livestock subsectors.
“We are experiencing shortage of supply for Agricultural inputs due to the high demand by farmers. Government and the existing private sector cannot produce enough inputs to cater for the whole country.
“It is why we have decided to lease out some land to investors under the public private partnership such that they can engage in massive reproduction,” said Ssempijja.
He said this during the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries organized Joint Agricultural Sector Review for the Financial year 2017/2018 that was held at Speke Resort and Country Club Munyonyo.
When asked if Uganda’s land is safe by Agnes Kirabo from the Food Rights Alliance, Ssempijja assured the general public that Land use is going to be maintained.
He encouraged Ugandans to venture into breeding of Agricultural inputs or massive reproduction using their own land since the market is available in the country.
“We need more breeders because we are implementing agricultural programs that need massive supply of inputs to farmers in all subsectors,” he added
Uganda Government through Operation Wealth Creation supplies free Agricultural inputs to farmers across the country.
On many occasions, the program has been faced with inadequate supply of inputs especially for crops to farmers due to limited breeders.
To ensure that the country has enough supplies of inputs , the Government allocated 72,650 acres of land in public ranches to some individuals, agencies and companies for different projects despite Members of Parliament and different shareholders opposing the move.
The ranches to be affected include Aswa, Nshaara, Maruzi, Lusenke, Ruhengyere, NARO Nakyesesa and Njeru.
A total of 27,520 acres of land in Maruzi Ranch have been allocated to Palm Oil Project, and another 4,480 acres in the same ranch has been allocated to NARO.
National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC & DB) has also received 5,120 acres in the ranch and another 4,480 in Nshaara Ranch.
Speaking at the same event the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Pius Wakabi Kasajja said the Agriculture, Animals and fisheries sector recorded an improved growth of 3.2% in the financial year 2017/2018 compared to 1.6% recorded in the financial year 2016/2017.
The better performance of the sector was mainly driven by food crop growing activities whose value added grew by 3.7% compared to the growth of 2.0% in2016/2017. Other factors also associated with the good performance include favorable weather conditions and firm control of pest and diseases.
Despite the good performance in the period under review, some participants also raised issues which they want Government to work on if the sector is to register steady progress.
Some of the key issues raised include increasing the funds allocated to the Agriculture sector, supporting farmers to access cheap loans from commercial banks among other Interventions.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO