Agriculture Sector Stakeholders Fear, Gov't Not Yet Ready For New Year, Parish Model

Ramathan Ggoobi, who has been advising the government on poverty alleviation, says the model gives the government a ‘bottom-up’ development planning, where the grassroots people have a chance to generate ideas for the development of their communities.
15 Jun 2021 10:41
Farmers need help to access foreign market. FRA Photo.

Audio 6

Stakeholders in the agriculture sector are worried that although the new financial year is scheduled to start in two weeks’ time, there are almost no structures to implement new initiatives by the government to boost household incomes, especially the Parish Model of Development. Calling themselves non-state actors led by the Food Rights Alliance, FRA, they say they are in full support of the model.   

They are, however, worried that there seems not to be enough being done on the ground as well as in the just read national budget 2021/22, to give confidence that the idea will be well-implemented. The PDM is a plan under, which the the government wants to concentrate their development resources at the lowest level of implementation of the national programs.  

Ramathan Ggoobi, who has been advising the government on poverty alleviation, says the model gives the government a ‘bottom-up’ development planning, where the grassroots people have a chance to generate ideas for the development of their communities. The Ministry of Finance presented the Model as an approach to organising and delivering public and private sector interventions for wealth creation including investment planning, budgeting and service delivery at the parish level as the lowest planning unit.   

Agnes Kirabo, the Executive Director FRA, says that the model is not an entirely new initiative, but that it was just abandoned or neglected by the government.  She, however, notes that the uniform facilitation of the 10,594 parishes is not workable, because they have different structures, with some parishes operating as town councils and others city wards while others are the usual rural administrative units.

Another concern by Kirabo is that the parishes have no structure since they have been dismantled or abandoned over decades, while the current parish chiefs are not trained to handle the proposed PDM.

  //Cue in: “We’re questioning ….   

Cue in:….non-state.”//  

The government has also listed 14 key priority interventions to focus on in the coming year, including re-organisation of public support to farmers through the nucleus farmer, agriculture mechanization, water for agriculture production, pest, vector and disease control, agriculture mechanization, regulation and certification, fisheries promotion and enforcement of good fishing practices, and extension service delivery.

Others are value addition, agriculture financing, Farmer group formation and registration, cotton development in Uganda and animal genetic development.  Kirabo argues that the government should have been a little more specific and selected a few commodities for the target to be achievable, instead of 14, which might be too much. 

//Cue in: “It’s a lot of work….. 


Cue in:…..first July.”//       

The Director Budget at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Kenneth Mugambe, says the model is to be implemented in phases that include training of chiefs and Parish Development Committees.  Operationalizing the committees will take the first three months, and implementation of the model is planned to start in October.

He adds that the funds have been budgeted for and that all the funded programs under the model will be well coordinated. Since the government has been pushing for agro-industrialization, it is expected that there is a need to create either community processing facilities or smallholder industries in the rural areas to cater for the agriculture output.

But, according to workers in the agriculture sector, this can only be possible if rural electrification is given special focus, especially targeting areas where agro-processing is likely to have an impact. James Cleto Mumbere, the coordinating team leader at the Community Integrated Development Initiative, CIDI, also wonders why the local governments, at least through the leader’s association, are not part of the composition of the inter-ministerial committee charged with overseeing the implementation of the model.    

//Cue in: “There’s no….   

Cue out: … young people.”//   

The players say there are already ongoing programs at the grassroots, some very well organized, which would be easy to integrate in the government plans. Ronald Bagaga, the Program Officer Research and Policy at the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Uganda, says this would even make the implementation of the parish model easier by taking on already existing structures. 

//Cue in: “As small scale…..

Cue out: …..the objective,”//   

The other important group that feels left out of the developments are the agriculture extension and advisory workers, who say that the whole agriculture modernization would heavily depend on them.  The Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, UFAAS, a group that brings together advisors and extension workers, says all such categories should be brought together instead of leaving everyone to work in isolation.

Adeline Muhebwa, a leader in AFAAS adds that the advisory services sector has been affected by the failure by government and parliament to have the Uganda National Extension Bill 2017 passed.  

//Cue in: “We have …   

Cue out: working as silos,”//    

On their part, the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute SEATINI, expresses doubt that even if there is increased production, it will benefit Ugandans unless the issue of market access has been addressed. SEATINI Uganda Chief Executive, Jane Nalunga, says Uganda has negotiated and secured many markets, but the farmers have not benefited from them because the government has not helped them either improve on the quality or facilitate access to them. 

//Cue in: “You know each….. 


Cue out: …..I wonder.”//        

Images 1