The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has released Ushs121 billion to support the food and animal feeds security project.
The money in question has been extended to different government agencies implementing the project.
The released money is part of the Shs6.369.829 trillion government expenditure for the third quarter of the current financial year.
Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury Ramathan Ggoobi announced the release of the money on Wednesday, 11 January 2023.
“Ushs121 billion has been provided to support the strategic interventions to boost food and animal feeds security,” he announced.
The PS urged accounting officers to prioritize payment of service providers on time and avoid accumulation of arrears.
The National Animal Genetics Resources Centre and DataBank (NAGRC&DB) is also among the agencies implementing the project by growing maize and soybean on its farms and ranches nationwide in a bid to boost food and animal feed security in the country. This is in response to Cabinet adopting a paper by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to boost food security in the country.
The release will come as relief to NAGRC&DB, which has been grappling with funding gaps as they implement the project.
According to the State Minister for Animal Industry, Lt Col (Rtd) Bright Rwamirama, while NAGRC&DB has so far planted about 12 square miles of corn and soybean across their nine ranches spread across the country, they are faced with serious funding gaps.
The minister says they face high prohibitive costs of machinery hire, especially for bush clearing operations, excessive heavy rains, which have derailed both bush clearing and tillage operations due to soggy and inoperable soil conditions, excessively high costs of fuel for all mechanized operations and production delays occasioned by eviction of encroachers on government land.
He also says scattered encroacher settlements derailed efficient mechanized bush clearing, tillage and propagation operations as machine operators had to manoeuvre around numerous plots of homesteads, gardens and graveyards resulting in unwarranted fuel and time wastage.
He says the presence of fake agro-inputs on the market have proven ineffective against pests and weeds, culminating in unbudgeted for repeat applications and lack of irrigation equipment to facilitate longer planting periods has led to unbudgeted for expenditure on establishment of pressurised farm water irrigation systems.
Lt Col (Rtd) Rwamirama says they are also impacted by large scale infestation by the fall army worms that have proven resistant to the available pesticides and wild game especially elephants, buffalo, zebras, baboons, monkeys and antelopes that continue to feed on established maize gardens in Nshaara, Sanga and Got Apwoy ranches that border Lake Mburo and Murchison falls National Parks.
“This has also led to unbudgeted for expenditure on day and night guard services,” he says.
To resolve the challenges, Lt Col (Rtd) Rwamirama says a solar powered ground water irrigation system has been established at Kasolwe stock farm (the most water stressed of all the production sites) to alleviate the prevailing water stress in the maize there and mechanized pesticide application has been repeatedly undertaken and is ongoing at all the food and animal feed production sites.
He also says all agro input suppliers have been instructed to provide viability certification to support provision of high quality agro inputs. Chain-link fencing has been adopted as an immediate interim solution to the challenge of wild game at Nshaara, Sanga and Got Apwoy ranches and is on-going.
Lt Col (Rtd) Rwamirama says engagement of Uganda Wildlife Authority to facilitate establishment of a lion-proof fence at the boundaries of Lake Mburo national game park and Murchison falls national game park with Nshaara and Got Apwoy ranches respectively has been undertaken and is on-going.
He also says that they have deployed day and night guard services to protect the maize and soya bean gardens from wild game and trespassers