The Chairperson Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Margaret Okori -Moe being shown how the process is done by a scientist at the Laboratories in Nakyessa.
The need for increased funding of the agricultural sector by the government is critical for the country. This came against a backdrop of remarks made during discussion by members of parliament of the agricultural committee during a monitoring visit to check on the progress of infrastructural developments that are currently being funded by the Government of Uganda.
The team led by their chairperson Janet Okori- Moe was received by the Minister of State fisheries who represented the Sector minister Hon on behalf of the ministry.
In her remarks, Janet Okori moe said, she said she knows there are a number of challenges but would ensure that an entity like NARO is supported to operate efficiently. Budget visits that the minister alluded to, Janet Okori Moe said as a committee they were disappointed because Agriculture being the back born of the economy they will shout and talk about it. She appreciated the scientists and said they are a category that deserve medals too.
She was happy to know that it was during her tenure that infrastructural developments were taking place. Went on to say that as a committee we will not be ashamed not to support entities that don’t show value for money.
She advised NARO to engage more and disseminate the information about the work they are doing and in collaboration with the directorate of extension. “We need to form synergies on making our activities known”
Hon Hellen Adoa – (Ministry of state for fisheries) in her remarks said she was impressed by the interest shown by the committee members during the tour because none of them was bothered about time nor hunger. She went on to say that scientists are the ones to save Ugandans in all sectors and if scientists decided to keep quiet, there is no amount of investment that solve the issue.
Regarding the budget cuts for the agricultural sector, Hon Hellen Adoa said, it was unfortunate and there is no way that agriculture can wait. This happened as her team were busy trying to negotiate for more funds, only to be told that the entire sector was affected by budget cuts.
DG made a presentation say they must have felt the pulse of NARO and we are open to feedback to make. Science agenda for Africa, each country must devote at least 0.1 % to research but it’s said to say that Uganda is allocating only 0.2% of her budget to research. He went on to talk about some of the innovations that NARO scientists have developed over the years that include the transgenic maize that NARO has shown resistance to fall army worm but can’t be accessed due to the delay in passing of the biotechnology bill. Fish smoking kiln is a game changer in food safety, it reduces cancer causing pathogens in smoked fish from 10,000Ppb to less than 00.0ppb. Aflasafe technology that reduced aflatoxin contamination by close to 95%. For an acre of land, one can use 4kgs and for a hectare one can use 10kgs. On environmental protection, NARO introduced bio control agents to manage pests that were affecting eucalyptus trees. He is yet to see a scientists given a medal for such novel contributions that are saving the country millions of shillings. Beef production.
Dr Agona lamented on the recent budget cuts on the sector yet there are several areas even within NARO that need funding for them to function efficiently, case being the Laboratory in NaCORI and Maruzi institute that needs to be equipped. Research on invasive species like congress weed, Kariba weed that is causing problems. The issue of NARO having a fleet that is over 10 years old and yet cannot be replaced due to funds. He implored the committee to think about these requests.