The government recognizes the importance of agriculture and the role it plays in economic growth and development. This is reflected in the fact that agriculture has been identified as a national priority in both the National Development Plan (NDP) and Uganda Vision 2040.
The sector itself employs about 80 percent of Uganda’s labour force, accounts for about 40 percent of the National Exports Revenue and contributes 26 percent of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Over the medium term, the government aims to improve food and nutrition security, increase income at household level in the country and increase agricultural exports to USD four billion by 2020.
According to Rose Namayanja Nsereko, National Treasurer- NRM, this is to be achieved through; increasing production and productivity, increasing access to critical farm inputs, improving agricultural markets and value addition of the priority commodities and strengthening the institutional capacity of sector stakeholders.
“That’s why government set up the Production and Marketing Grant (PMG) which is a conditional grant given to districts in Uganda to implement functions of the agriculture sector at the local government level and in line with the Local Government Act, 1997, The production and Marketing Grant,” she says.
The production and marketing grant focusses on controlling epidemic diseases, pests and parasites affecting crops, animals and fish: this includes reporting, investigations, diagnosis, surveillance, vaccination, and treatment among other things.
Government therefore, continues to emphasize implementation of the commodity approach, with focus on the twelve key food security and household income commodities, which Operation Wealth Creation is also focusing on.
Namayanja adds that government and local governments are giving special attention to continued re-structuring and implementation of the refined Agriculture Single Spine Extension, improve Agriculture Information systems, especially enhancing the research-extension interface, ensure the adequate provision of farm inputs at farm level such as fertilizers, seeds, planting, breeding, pasture, feeds and stocking material, intensify efforts to ensure control of pests, vectors and diseases;
Intensify regulation and enforcement activities in crop, livestock and capture fisheries; undertake strategic interventions to increase water for production at farm level through direct public project support and promoting Public Private Partnerships.
Information from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries suggests that the activities will include setting up of medium to large community irrigation schemes and setting up on-farm small scale irrigation demonstrations.
The Government is also to continue to subsidise the construction of valley tanks and valley dams for various farmers in water stricken areas, undertake efforts to broaden awareness for agri-business enterprises to have access to Agriculture Finance Credit and Credit Guarantee Scheme Services.
The Government will also continue engagement and work with other government organs and the private sector to promote the use of fertilizers to increase productivity.
The PMG fund is planned for in a way that ensures 55 percent is utilized in capital development projects and 45 percent in recurrent activities.
President Yoweri Museveni while opening the 25th Annual Source of the Nile National Agricultural Show in Jinja Municipality recently also called upon farmers to abandon subsistence farming for commercial profit oriented agriculture if the population is to be guaranteed food and income security as well as getting rid of poverty.
He said the practice of subsistence agriculture by the majority of Ugandans has made it difficult for the country to reap enough from its cherished agricultural potential.
“We cannot benefit anything from agriculture when the population is still farming for subsistence purposes.
The leaders, especially the political class, need to take it upon themselves to sensitize the population to do commercial profit oriented agriculture to guarantee food and income security otherwise you are committing political suicide by keeping around you a hungry and poor population,” he said.