Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | The Deputy Director of Research Coordination at the National Agricultural Research Organization-NARO, Dr. Swidiq Mugerwa, has said that funding shortfalls continue to retard the organization’s ability to generate innovations and technology for the sustainability of food security in the country.
Dr. Mugerwa was addressing Members of Parliament on the Committee of Agriculture at the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI), one of 16 semi-autonomous agricultural public research institutes located in Nalukulongo, Wakiso District on Thursday.
Dr. Mugerwa explained that for NARO to operate optimally and coordinate all public-funded agricultural research in Uganda as an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), it requires between 300-500 billion Shillings in funding annually.
NARO’s Governing Council Chairperson, Dr. William Olaho Mukani also reiterated the need for more funds for the entity to facilitate proper planning that meets the food security needs of the country whose population growth is projected at 100 million by 2050.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa challenged NARO to prioritize partnerships to enhance its mandate.
Tayebwa noted that NARO has undertaken several studies through research funded by the Government and development partners, adding the entity is under-utilizing its capacity to generate revenue for self-reliance and sustainability.
According to the Auditor General’s Report 2022, 107 billion Shillings was allocated to NARO in 2021/2022. During the reviewed period, the entity generated 3.097 billion Shillings only from Non-Tax Revenue NTR.
But Tayebwa observed that figures generated in the NTR by the entity are tantamount to sleeping on the job by management yet through partnerships they can generate more revenue from their research work and be able to generate revenue for self-reliance.
Tayebwa advised that NARO should partner with the Uganda Development Corporation – UDC, Uganda Investment Authority – UIA, and the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), all state-owned corporations for commercial purposes.
Established as a body corporate by the National Agricultural Research Act of 2005, NARO comprises a Governing Council, a Secretariat, and 16 Public Agricultural Research Institutes (PARIs) spread across the country. The entity is mandated to undertake research in all aspects of agriculture including crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry, agro-machinery, natural resources, and socio-economics.
It’s important to note that at the 2nd Africa Union – AU Assembly held in Maputo, Mozambique in July 2003, African leaders signed a Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, a new Pan-African flagship program to allocate at least 10% of national budgetary resources to agriculture, to achieve 6% growth of the agriculture economy.
But NARO leaders argue that the Agricultural sector currently has a funding shortfall of 166 billion Shillings, about 0.3 percent of the required 10 percent funding from the FY 2023/2024 national budget of 51 trillion Shillings. Notably, Uganda has unfunded priorities of over 200 trillion Shillings.
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