Government has defended the giving away of some lands belonging to Ministry of Agriculture semi-Autonomous agencies and ranches to investors saying the decision will help the country have a good supply of agricultural inputs.
The Minister of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja said the land in question is being given to investors who are going to utilize government resources to engage in 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, “he explained.
Ssempijja’s argument for supporting the giving away of the government land came after participants attending the Joint Agricultural Sector Review at the Speke Resort Munyonyo asked if the Governments land is safe.
Agnes Kirabo from the Food Rights Alliance also asked why government’s land was being given away to private firms.
Kirabo said; “How safe is the farmer’s land? How safe is the government’s agricultural land? Tenure security is key in enhancing the country’s agricultural production and food security”
In response, the Minister said government has more land than they are giving out adding that land use is going to be maintained and he encouraged more Ugandans to venture into breeding agricultural inputs using their own land since the market is available in the country for the inputs.
“We need more breeders in the country because the government is implementing agricultural programs that need massive supply of agriculture inputs to farmers in all subsectors of the Agriculture sector,” he said.
Through Operation Wealth Creation, government supplies free agricultural inputs to farmers across the country, but on many occasions the program has been faced with inadequate supply of inputs.
The government recently allocated 72,650 acres of land to 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 event, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries Pius Wakabi Kasajja said the Agriculture, forestry 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 improved performance in the sector was mainly driven by food crop growing activities whose value added grew by 3.7% compared to the growth of 2.0% in 2016/2017. 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 that they want addressed 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.