ACHOLI – Members of Parliament from the Acholi sub-region want the government through the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Animal Husbandry to distribute tractors to farmers instead of hand hoes.
Initially, the government was distributing hand hoes to farmers and farmer groups in the sub-counties and parishes through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs). It also did the same in a partnership with Parliament where MPs distributed hoes to their constituents annually.
Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak South Member of Parliament says, hand hoes can not do much considering the fact that the government has been rallying farmers to start commercial farming.
According to Olanya, as government promotes agricultural industries through the Parish Development Module (PDM) that is underway, they should invest in tractors per parish for farmers to till their land on a large scale.
Santa Okot, the Aruu North County Member of Parliament blamed the government for the challenges the farmers are facing in fighting household poverty.
“How can you say, you want farmers to engage in large scale agriculture yet you continue giving them hand hoes? Where do they get the energy to till 5-10 or even 20 acres of land? Using hand hoes?” Okot questions.
According to Okot, besides distributing hand hoes which have overtime become ineffective, the government has also on several occasions distributed substandard inputs including seeds to the farmers.
We have seen several Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and district leaders rejecting seeds, like cassava cuttings, seedlings among others due to their poor standards. These are all factors as to why the community in Acholi sub-region are struggling to fight poverty.
Susan Lalam, a farmer and resident of Kal A sub ward in Koch Goma town council in Nwoya district says, having used hand hoes for over 15 years; she has only been left with body weakness and minimal productivity. Lalam further says, with the mechanization of agriculture that is taking over, the poor will be left to work in people`s farms because of high costs related to farming.
Stephen Ojok, another farmer in Te Got sub ward in Koch Goma town council says, several Non-Governmental-Organizations and government officials have been asking them to join or start up groups for support. He says, such groups could be targeted by the government and tractors given to them for easy management, coordination and effectiveness.
Charles Aben, who works at the NAADs secretariat while doing a presentation on what they have done in the Acholi sub-region during the Investor’s Forum organized by Acholi Parliamentary Group in Nwoya District in September this year said, they distributed thousands of hand hoes to the various districts of Uganda.
Aben said they had, however, suspended the distribution because they had run out of money. On the demand by the Members of Parliament, Aben says there’s need for Parliament to allocate more funds so that the tractors can be procured.
Aben also observed that NAADs is no longer in charge of distribution of hand hoes or tractors but rather the Ministry of Agriculture which now has the full mandate.
Our efforts to speak to Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry were futile as his known telephone contact went unanswered.
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