Legislators urge gov’t to give farmers seeds for new season

KAMPALA – Members of Parliament have asked government to procure and distribute seeds to the farmers as a measure to avert famine in the months to come ahead.

Some parts of the country have been ripped by severe hunger due to the prolonged drought that devastated crop gardens in the first season, leaving most farmers with very little or nothing to harvest.

Areas like Karamoja have had people and animals die due to inadequate food and water. Teso and some parts of Northern Uganda are not spared either as some parts have an acute shortage of food.

Kilak North County MP, Anthony Akol, said the long dry spell has left Ugandan farmers without seeds, despite the rainy season that has set in.

“This month of August is the right time that we receive rain and people really want to plant.  Government should urgently distribute fast maturing seedlings like maize and beans,” he told Parliament while raising a matter of national importance, during plenary on Thursday.

Akol called for food distribution to be undertaken in Agago district, where at least 20 people have reportedly died because of hunger.

Kiboga District Woman Legislator, Christine Kaaya urged government to expedite the feasibility of agricultural insurance and its related application, which she said could be a long-term solution for farmers.

“Farmers planted quality seeds and expected to get something. Some of the soils were fertile but the harvests were poor. In order to have food, we must have seeds provided at the moment,” she said.

Kaaya also proposed that the Finance Ministry should instruct committees of the Parish Development Model [PDM] SACCOs to release funds to facilitate seed distribution.

“Right now the money is lying idle in the PDM SACCOs account, yet there is a critical need for this [money] to start off,” She added.

Bbale County MP, Charles Tebandeke blamed the failure of government to provide seeds in the current season on PDM, saying government has earmarked Shs 4 billion to procure seeds under the programme.

He said it was unfair for the government to inject the funds meant for seedlings into the PDM, which he said has delayed to kick off.

“It is unfair and it [PDM] will not address the issue of food insecurity in the country. All the cattle corridor is affected by the food insecurity,” Tebandeke said.

The Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Jane OKori-Moe, urged government to use the Shs4bln to buy planting materials for the farmers.

“When we were budgeting, we even warned members that PDM did not envisage food insecurity yet a lot of money for seedlings was incorporated into the model [PDM],” she said.

She added, “Now that people are starving everywhere, we needed just Shs 4bln; Shs 2bln for planting season A and Shs 2bln for planting season B and I request that we provide that money so that people have the seeds.”

Meanwhile, Army Representative Maj. Gen. Sam Kavuma, who is also the Deputy Coordinator, Operation Wealth Creation [OWC] advised the House to come up with a new strategy to address the current famine in some parts of the country.

Kavuma added: “The existing government intervention under the agriculture ministry through OWC, the National Agricultural Advisory Services and PDM are not designed to address the famine in the short-term.”

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, directed the agriculture minister to provide a comprehensive statement on the distribution of seeds next Tuesday.

“In the statement, we need actions taken to mitigate all these issues that have been raised. This is a very serious matter,” Tayebwa said.

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