On Tuesday 25th of June, 2019 during a National Small-scale farmers’ Agriculture Budget Dialogue held in Kampala, small scale farmers from 30 districts discussed the would-be impact of the budget allocation to the agricultural sector in the financial year 2019/20 and the priorities for the ASSP & NDPII (2021/22-2023/24). The Agriculture sector, which is arguably the most significant contributor to the economy, received Shs1.05 trillion which is about 2.6 percent of the national budget despite the country being a signatory of the 2014 Malabo Declaration which commits to allocating at least 10per cent of the national budget to agriculture and agriculture growth by 6% contrary to the 3.8% sector growth realized in financial year 2018/19.
During the dialogue, small-scale farmers appreciated the fact that the sector budget increased slightly from Shs892.5 billion in the financial year 2018/19. Small scale farmers noted that over 80 per cent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood hence stating that government in the financial year 2019/20 budget should have allocated more money to improving small-scale irrigation to fight drought, provision of quality extension services, addressing pests and diseases, post-harvest handling among others. Mr.Okoche Etuket Charles, a farmer from Bukedea district, was disappointed with the low allocation to the sector that employs the majority of the population. He was further disappointed that only 12 per cent of the agriculture sector budget was going to the local government, which is too small to impact on the ordinary farmer across the country. He also called on the government to allocate at least 10% of the national budget to agriculture if we are to transform this country into a middle-Income status.
Mrs Twayaga Beatrice, a farmer from Kabale district, also wondered why MAAIF received the bigger amount (530.2 billion) compared to local government (122 billion) yet sector impacts are realized at local government level.
Small-scale farmers, however, faulted and blamed the kind of the sector budget to their neglect and poor participation in the local government budget development processes where budget formation begins. Mr Arumadri Bakole Joel, a farmer from Arua district, claimed that farmers when are called for these meetings they don’t go asking whether they will benefits’.
Small scale farmers during the dialogue also reviewed the Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan (2015/16 -2019/20) and the National Development Plan (NDP) II to inform and input the national review process for ASSP (2021/22-2023/24) and NDPIII. Small-scale farmers recommended the addition of agroecology as a priority, promotion of indigenous crops and addition of crops like groundnuts, cowpeas, millet and sorghum to the list of priority crops. Small scale farmers launched an Agriculture Budget Advocacy Plan to enforce transparency and mutual accountability through budget implementation monitoring and tracking in their respective districts as well as influence the financial year 2020/21 budget to ensure that a just and fair budget is allocated to the sector to support smallholder farmers especially the youth and women at the grassroots level.