The National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB) has asked Parliament for additional UGX 5 billion for the establishment of a pig genetic centre in the 2024/25 national budget.
The request was made by Janet Okori-Moe, Chairperson, Parliament’s Agriculture Committee while appearing before the Budget Committee to present the report for the 2024/25 national budget framework paper for the agricultural sector.
Okori-Moe defended the request arguing the Budget Committee to support the appropriation for the fund required for this project in order to enable the Centre create more breeds of pigs in Uganda.
The Committee observed that Shs10Bn was budgeted for the establishment of the pig breeding centre activity in 2024/25 but only Shs5Bn was provided for yet there is need to avail improved pig genetic resources. The centre will also act as a skilling centre for pig farmers countrywide. The Committee recommends that an additional UGX 5 billion be provided for establishment of a pig genetic resource centre, said Okori-Moe.
She added that Uganda was recently ranked number one in consuming pork in Africa, arguing that there is need for additional funding to improve the quality of pigs.
But only UGX 5 billion was provided yet there is need to improve pig genetic resources and this centre can also provide training for pig farmers country wide, she added.
According to a recent report published in the Daily Monitor quoting Dr Ben Lukuyu, Uganda Country Representative to the International Livestock Research Institute, the consumption of pork in Uganda currently standards at 3.5 kilograms per capita.
Although pig production is expected to receive support in the coming financial year’s budget, there is no significant allocation to the development of cattle production.
Members of Parliament from the cattle corridor and are members of the Budget Committee accused the Ministry of Agriculture for neglecting animal production, despite the threat of anthrax and Foot and Mouth disease that is ravaging their animals.
This followed a recommendation by the Agriculture Committee to have facilities to manage milk collection in a bid to boost milk production, a recommendation that was rejected by Dickson Kateshumbwa, MP for Sheema Municipality.
I just don’t understand the strategy of the Government concentrating on getting milk collection centres and instead of looking at value addition. The price of milk is so unfortunate, you look after your cattle, then you sell milk at UGX 200. Then you are saying we buy collection plants then you get farmers to sell. That isn’t value addition, there should be the next step, maybe you need to invest in machinery that can add value. Otherwise, the milk farmers are getting more and more impoverished because of these strategies, said Kateshumbwa.
The lawmakers also rejected lamentations by NAGRIC that despite owning over 55,169 hectares of land, the Pig Genetic Centre only has 5 acres out of the 16 pieces of land, with many MPs wondering the logic behind the Government denying its own entities land titles.
We visited some of the NACRIC & DB places and some of these places are very well planned but it isn’t productive. In your report, you have said that the Committee noted that some of the prominent people have taken advantage of the lapse in the management of this land and claimed ownership. Who are those prominent people, there is no Government farm in Sheema, so we need to disclose, said Kateshumbwa.
Stephen Kangwagye, MP for Bukanga County also expressed disappointment over the failure by the Ministry of Agriculture to budget for animal vaccines to prevent disease like anthrax and foot and mouth disease. He said that the farmers are not expected to stay afloat in the business if such provisions aren’t catered for in the national budget.
The reason as to why prices of milk have gone down today, it is because the animal diseases have become too rampant in the region and it is bad to find that we are in this process but you can’t find any budget for this issue. You have heard and seen on television that there is an outbreak of anthrax in Rakai and some other neighbouring districts, you can imagine, it is a killer disease and you can access market in that region. But if you find that the sectoral committee isn’t giving it a priority, you wonder, said Kanhwagye.
Kangwagye added that,
You know that vaccines have become something you can’t easily see in the country. You know we have an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, in Isingiro, Rakai, Ssembabule, and everywhere. But it is quite hard to get to the Ministry of Agriculture and get a vaccine and all areas are under quarantine, how do you expect this sector now to survive? And this is where we all thrive, if you don’t give it attention, how do you expect this nation to get something from this sector?
Sylvia Nayebare, Gomba District Woman MP said that it was disturbing that one of Uganda’s important entities like NAGRIC &DB fail to secure land titles.
I was disturbed [hearing] that NAGRIC has failed to get its land title, it is like the Government failing to get its own land in its names and the Committee has highlighted and brought it here. I think we should borrow a leaf from the Trade Committee, if you see such things that are recurrent, you choose not to give funds, she said.
In the 2024/25 national budget, the agriculture sector has been left with a funding gap to a tune of UGX 565.429 billion.