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Parliament Tasks Gov’t on National Irrigation Plan

Parliament has tasked government to expedite the finalization of the National Irrigation Plan to guide irrigation development in the Agriculture Sector.
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah steering the plenary session.

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Parliament has tasked government to expedite the finalization of the National Irrigation Plan.

The call was made on Friday following the adoption of parliament’s committee report on the Agriculture Sector budget for the coming financial year 2019/2020. The report was tabled by the Committee Chairperson Okori-Moe Janet in a plenary session chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah.

The Agriculture Sector budget has increased by 47 percent from Shillings 358.73 billion in the current financial year to 530.2 billion in the next financial year.

According to the committee, the sub-programme on Agriculture Infrastructure, Mechanization and Water for Agricultural Production budgetary allocation has increased from 29 billion shillings in the current financial year to 61.04 billion shillings in the coming financial year.

Okori-Moe commended the increased funding towards water for agriculture but demanded that the Agriculture Ministry in collaboration with Ministry of Water and Environment expedites the finalization of the National Irrigation Plan.

She hinged her call on the efforts towards modernizing Uganda’s Agricultural sector noting that water for production has been singled out as a strategic service for economic development by the Sector’s ministerial policy statement for the coming financial year 2019/2020.

She also noted the long spells of droughts that have hit the country and affected most of the farmers yet the delayed irrigation plan would address the problem.

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The Agriculture Committee recommended that government with should urgently call for a state-wide emergency in the drought-stricken areas and provide medium water reservoirs and replenish drying dams to manage the drought in the respective areas and avoid loss of both crop and animal resources.

Small scale irrigation schemes like Treadle pumps, Open wells, Solar Pumps, small earth dams were recommended as some of the options to be explored.

Okori-Moe also cited a need for the country to give attention to maintenance of the already established water infrastructure citing a study conducted by Action Aid International in 2015 in four Districts of Teso which established that out of the 75 water for production infrastructure available, only 15 were functioning as 45 could function but required rehabilitation and 15 were completely dilapidated.

Statistics indicate that Uganda has irrigation potential of 3.03 million hectares and out of this, the current coverage in irrigation is 0.5 per cent. The total land under irrigation is around 15,000 hectares countrywide.

According to a study carried out by the Department of Disaster Preparedness in the Office of the Prime Minister in 2011, Uganda lost an estimated Shillings 4.3 trillion in the year alone as a result of climate change.

The Agriculture Sector is said to be employing about 90 percent of the country’s population but the country has no capacity to produce enough food due to reliance on unreliable rainfall. 

Meanwhile, MPs expressed discomfort over a foul smell in the Chambers of Parliament.

As Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah steered the House in which MPs were to consider budget estimates for different sectors, Butebo Country MP Pentagon Kamusiime rose a procedural point and requested the session be halted until MPs establish what the strange smell was. He claimed that it smelt like gas which had caused him pain in the chest.

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However, Oulanyah said that the smell was as a result of the on-going renovations in the Parliament Canteen.

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