Gulu—12, June 2020: During the national budget reading on Thursday afternoon, Finance Minister Hon Matia Kasaija told nation [Parliament] that the improved allocation to the agriculture sector is primarily intended to improve production and commercialisation within the sector.
The Finance Minister added that government is targeting at least fourteen key agriculture sub-sectors [products], among them: tea, sugarcane, cattle, coffee, cocoa, banana, dairy, fish, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, and cassava, among others.
In the ending fiscal year 2019/2020, agriculture was allocated shs1Trillion budget. With government’s new targets and now noticing how relevant the sector is to the economy amid Covid-19, the forthcoming fiscal year 2020/2021 has seen the budget allocation moving to shs1.3Trillion.
This allocation targets value addition, mechanisation and quality inputs distribution, and improved extension services.
“….agriculture sector grew by 4.2 percent up from 3.8 percent in the past four financial years,” Minister Kasaija noted.
One of the sub-sector expected to improve gradually is tea—according to expert—Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda.
Mr Atukunda, who’s a Director at The Edwin Foundation Tea Initiative [EFOTI Limited] believes that tea farmers in northern Uganda should be able to strive from August 2020. This is the time new financial year will be active.
A man, a farmer with over 30 years of experiance in tea industry, noted that his major plan is to see improved tea cuttings [plantlets] available to all tea farmers in northern Uganda.
He also says, unlike coffee, cassava, Irish and sweet potatoes, among others highlighted by government above, tea has remained one of Uganda’s major export.
“In Uganda, tea is recognised as an important export commodity with high potential to contribute to national income, employment and environment conservation. It’s the third export earner after coffee and fish [MAAIF, 2015 report]. It’s one of the ten crops identified in agricultural sector development strategy and investment plan, thus a viable tool for driving the vision 2040 agenda [Economy Policy Research Center, 2014],” Mr Atukunda, now based specifically in Acholi and West Nile sub-regions, promoting tea farming told TND News on Friday afternoon.
Uganda has since registered an increase in tea production according to UBOS, 2018 report to reach 69,000MT. This earned the country Uganda shillings 299 billion in the same year.
According to Uganda commercial guide , 80 percent of the country’s land is arable but only 35 percent is being cultivated. About 97 percent of Uganda’s tea is exported, hence earning the country foreign income.
The EFOTI Limited director further thinks it’s only through tea and government’s immediate intervention that the people of northern Uganda will increase their households’ incomes in the near future.
According to him, the region, disturbed by the LRA rebel activities for nearly three decades, is ready and committed to developing the agriculture sector. This, he reveals, deserves government financing.