The Rt Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, visited NARO’s National Livestock Resources Research Institute on November 9, 2023. This visit was to monitor and acquaint himself with the work being done by NARO. This was on invitation from the Hon. Frank Tumwebaze (Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries).
The Deputy Speaker was accompanied by the members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, led by their Chairperson, Hon. Janet Okori-Moe, and the Chairperson of the Oversight Committee. The delegation was received by Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, Hon. Hellen Adoa (Minister of State for Fisheries), Dr. Swidiq Mugerwa (Deputy Director of General Research Coordination), Dr. Stevens Kisaka (Director of Corporate Services), and other NARO directors of research.
The delegation visited the Aflasafe production facility, feed meal, zero-waste platform, vaccine production facility, and embryo transfer unit under the guidance of Dr. Swidiq Mugerwa.
Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, in his remarks, said he was glad to visit and experience NARO. “I have not seen any agency that is as organized and welcoming as NARO.” He spoke. The Deputy Speaker was glad to learn more about NARO, especially in the area of food security, since it is the only way, we can transform our economy. Coupled with the interventions of the Parish Development Model (PDM), Uganda is on the right track.
He promised to come back to visit NARO and offered his total support, apart from the GMO bill. Seen technologies that benefit people while making money.
Dr. Swidiq Mugerwa, Deputy Director of General Research Coordination, represented the Director General, who was away on official business.
He reiterated that food security is a cornerstone of any country and a sustainable pillar for the transformation of development and peace. Without food security, even the military would be vulnerable.
To achieve sustainable food security, aspects of science, technology, and innovation need to be addressed, one of which involves teaching farmers to enable them to adopt and practice modern farming methods.
In regard to funding, he said the Maputo Declaration states that each country in Africa should allocate at least 1% of its GDP to agriculture. This, however, is not yet happening in Uganda, given the latest statistics on the funds allocated to the agricultural sector. Premising on this, he requested parliament through the chief guest to allocate at least 300 billion shillings annually to NARO, though 500 billion shillings would be ideal to support agricultural research and development efforts.
Dr. William Olaho, chairperson of the NARO governing council
In his remarks, he appreciated the Hon. Thomas Tayebwa for visiting NARO and urged parliament and other leaders of government to come and see what NARO is doing. He said NARO stands to address the challenges of our time and has experienced tremendous growth from 1995, when it was instituted, to date.
For this, he was thankful to the Government of Uganda for all the support, which was a deliberate action by President Yoweri Museveni.
Regarding the challenges of food insecurity, Dr. Olaho said research is at the forefront of addressing issues of quality and quantity, albeit with shortcomings in the area of adequate human resources, equipment, and infrastructure.
The need to roll out technologies to end users, integrate crops and livestock, mechanization, and water and soil all need to be addressed continuously.
Dr. Olaho said that with all the required support, NARO will be seen as a role model in the region. He concluded by requesting the Deputy Speaker to handle the issue of the biotech and biosafety bill that has been on the table in parliament, as some of NARO’s critical work has stalled due to the delay in passing the bill.
Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries
He said that scientists are very modest people and do not know how to pitch, market, and publicize their work. When he was appointed to the Ministry of Agriculture, he came with his biases about NARO until he got to understand that for research to be effective, it must be helped by the extension arm of the sector to increase adoption and use.
Hon. Tumwebaze further said that for all the 16 products that had been showcased, each represented an industry, therefore providing opportunities for agro-industrialization and development opportunities for the country. He emphasized the need to commercialize all the innovations by liaising with the Uganda Investment Authority so that investors get to know about the prototypes available for scaling out. “I have no doubt of the impact it will create in transforming our economy, “he said.
Hon. Frank also requested continued support and motivation for researchers to deter them from leaving the country for greener pastures. In attendance were NARO Governing Council Members, NARO institutes, and private sector partners who participated in the mini-exhibition to showcase the various technologies. PARIs included: NaCRRI, NaSARRI, NARL, Mukono ZARDI, and NARO Holdings.