Development partners in civil society organisations want increased budget allocations especially for the agricultural sector with specifics on agricultural extension service financing.
The Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) says it is important for government to allocate enough funds for agricultural extension services, a key component used to assist farmers in expanding their ability to adopt and implement new methods using new technology.
Mr Patrick Katabazi, a CSBAG budget analyst, said improved farming technologies such as high yield crop varieties, chemical fertilisers, and irrigation techniques are critical to raising yields though farmers in Uganda have been much slower in adopting new methods due to lack of information regarding how to apply them.
Mr Katabazi was giving analysis of the group’s proposed view on increased budget allocation for the agricultural sector for the financial year 2016/2017 during a meeting organised by Uganda National Farmers Federation in Kampala recently.
Explaining the statistics, he noted that the sector budget has gradually increased from Shs332.302b in the financial year 2014/2015 to Shs656.976b projection for 2016/2017.
His concern is that since the sector budget has not reached the National Development Plan expectation, the sector priorities may not be achieved.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries still requires Shs16.2b to fully recruit staff and pay salaries for the remaining vacant extension workers in all districts and sub-counties in accordance with the new staff structure. CSBAG therefore recommends that Parliament allocates Shs16.20b to facilitate the ministry to recruit the desired staff.
He added; “The production and marketing grant to districts has been constant at Shs10.4b for the last eight years which should be revised.”
According to him, operation funds are critical otherwise the officers going to be recruited will remain redundant leading to further wastage of resources.
His group recommends that since the number of districts has increased to beyond 112 districts, the sector requires Shs39.6 billion to close the gap in facilitating extension workers.
Non-salary operational costs at the Ministry of Agriculture for the financial year 2015/2016 decreased from Shs42.36 billion to Shs42.20 billion in 2016/2017.
There are still gaps for activities such as project and development expenditures which require adequate financial support. And as such, the group recommends Shs928m to be provided in total to support the directorate to implement effectively the agriculture extension system.
Figures indicate that for the financial year 2015/2016, the Ministry of Finance provided Shs10b for recruitment of extension staff at the districts and sub-counties. The process is still ongoing. The figure for pay wages of extension workers for 2016/2017 is Shs39.41b.
Credit: All Africa