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Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Parliament met at 2.49 p.m. in Parliament House, Kampala.
(The Speaker, Mr Edward Ssekandi, in the Chair.)
The House was called to order.
THE SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I welcome you to this sitting.
MS CHRISTINE BAKO (FDC, Woman Representative, Arua): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise on a matter of national concern particularly pertaining to the peasantry of this country.
You may be aware that two days ago the minister in charge of agriculture released to the press information that in this country we are going to have agricultural extension services based on six households per parish. According to her statistics, therefore, we will be serving 30,000 households annually.
Mr Speaker, you remember last financial year we passed a budget of Shs 40 billion for NAADS and Shs 20 billion was taken as a microfinance component. According to the NAADS Act of 2001, the mechanisms of operationalising NAADS are not as they were prescribed today. A week or so ago, there was a letter from the Office of the President giving directives to ensure that only six households per parish benefit from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS).
The National Agricultural Advisory Services as it is supposed to be a private sector led, demand driven extension service provision. In the NAADS Act, we are aware that this extension service is supposed to go to all farmers in this country. However, the current composition of the management of NAADS at the sub-county does not advocate for what it is in the Act. Consequently, this kind of provision today as to how NAADS is going to be implemented is irregular. It is a reflection of a total lack of respect for the law. I am, therefore, appealing to this House to pronounce itself on NAADS as it was before we can accommodate what it is right now.
I looked in detail at the Prosperity-for-All election promise of Mr Museveni to this country. In his manifesto, related to agriculture, there was no component related to NAADS. His election promise never premised itself on NAADS as a way of trying to be acceptable by the people who gave him the mandate. It is a total reflection of the abuse of this institution - Parliament. Before we revisit the NAADS Act, how can we see the implementation of service provision in agriculture being driven by political tendencies? The sub-county farmers forum, for example, does not include anything to do with the chairman of the Movement party in the sub-county but today (Interruption)
THE SPEAKER: Honourable, what exactly do you want? Do you want an authoritative statement on the matter so that we debate it?
MS BAKO: Mr Speaker, what I want is first and foremost, a thorough explanation to this House as to how these six households per parish came about. This is because we are trying to operationalise NAADS out of the law that established it.
Secondly -(Interruption)
MR TUMWEBAZE: Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues, thank you for giving way. The piece of information I want to volunteer here is that NAADS is one of the pillars of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA). It is just like NARS for agricultural research or like the component of rural finance.
Where I agree with you is that NAADS as of now is being taken as a holistic intervention to even include other components that would have been independently catered for under PMA. Government should have seen that there is a need to amend the NAADS Act. So, the information that anybody should take now is concentrating on amending the NAADS Act to expand the mandate of NAADS to not only deliver extension but to even give inputs and to support the value chain. Thank you.
THE SPEAKER: You are on the Floor, hon. Bako; I just want to know what you want done.
MS BAKO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Definitely, I would want to talk but wisdom from grey hair should have been better, but that is not the scenario now.
What I want is for the minister to explain to this House how the Ministry of Agriculture is going to implement NAADS the way it has been prescribed and decreed by the President before consulting this House and before we amend the NAADS Act as it is.
Secondly, I appreciate the information given by my brother, the farmers president, but I want to assure this House and Ugandans that NAADS as a component of PMA is run as a corporate body and hence has the legal obligation to sue or to be sued. In any case farmers, even now, have a right to sue NAADS because of the way it is going to be managed if we are not very careful. So, at this point in time, I would expect a response from government because this is taking farmers and the peasants of this country for granted. I thank you.
THE SPEAKER: I suspect that what you are saying is that there is confusion in the minds of people as to what they expect of NAADS and you would therefore like somebody with authority to come and explain what the people should expect of NAADS. Is that not really what you want?
MS BAKO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have explicitly tried to explain to this House that first and foremost, NAADS - Mr Speaker, you were here - came into existence as a result of an Act of this Parliament. It was called the National Agricultural Advisory Services Act, 2001. Now government is deviating from that Act to include things that are not within that mandate. Why is that being done before Parliament is consulted, before we amend the NAADS Act?
Two (Interruption)
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR ANIMAL INDUSTRY (Maj. Bright Rwamirama): Mr Speaker, I have listened very carefully to my shadow minister and she is actually implying that government is deviating from the NAADS Act. To the best of my knowledge, we are bringing in efficiency. We want to make sure that people are accountable without changing the law. Is she in order to mislead the country and this House?
THE SPEAKER: She is making her assessment. Honourable, we have to understand what your problem is and the kind of assistance you need from one of us either from this side or the other side. That is why I am labouring to find out what exactly you want to be done.
MR FUNGAROO: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The information I would like to give is from Obongi. My colleague was talking about information regarding the shift to selected families instead of relying on groups, which is bringing conflict. From the date that information appeared in the papers, people started asking, Which family is going to be selected for assistance among the six? So, it is conflict based on the formula to be used. Why do we shift from the group format, where a group has members coming from a wider coverage, to a family?
Six families! How long are you going to take to cover the whole country? My information is about the conflict among the people.
THE SPEAKER: Hon. Member, there are two issues here: there is the Bonna Bagaggawale policy, which came during election of this current Parliament, and the law on NAADS which was enacted in the Seventh Parliament. You see, the two things are different. Maybe what you are complaining about is somebody using NAADS as an agency for carrying out the Bonna Bagaggawale programme. Dont you see the difference between the two? Let us get some information from hon. Kamuntu.
PROF. KAMUNTU: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Prosperity-for-All as a programme is very good both for the Government and the Opposition. It is prosperity for all and I have no doubt in my own mind that it is for all. You can even see that hon. Bako is very prosperous as a result of this programme.
The information I wanted to bring out, Mr Speaker, is that on the Order Paper, item No.7, there is a report to evaluate the National Agricultural Research Act 2005 and its impact on the performance of the Agricultural Research and Training Projects (ARTP) and how it is being implemented by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO). Under this report, all these issues being raised are going to be responded to.
Finally, Prosperity-for-All is not in contradiction to NAADS. Not at all! It does not contradict NAADS but in fact enhances and promotes it. All it aims at is indeed the prosperity of the entire nation. The Prosperity-for-All programme takes on the first six families per parishes as a demonstration for the rest to emulate. It does not contradict anything. I would plead with the member and members on both sides of the House to embrace Prosperity for All. It is something you should embrace and welcome. Thank you very much.
MR SEBULIBA MUTUMBA (DP, Kawempe Division South, Kampala): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The honourable member who has brought up this problem has got a point. The National Agricultural Advisory Services comes from the other policy framework known as Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) from which PMA and NAADS came. The problem with Bonna Bagaggawale, which is good, is that it is not identified with the formation of the other policies or frameworks. It is as if government is coming in with an ad hoc approach to the entire thing that was laid out in these policy frameworks. So, there is a feeling that this ad hoc manner is intervening with the actual functioning of NAADS.
In NAADS for example, they were supposed to lay off the original agricultural extension workers but now they are going to use them. The Presidents letter said, Get them back on board. So this is where the contradiction comes in. There is an Act which is actually streamlining the operationalisation of NAADS and it was passed in the Sixth Parliament (Interruption)
MAJ. (RTD) RWAMIRAMA: Mr Speaker and honourable colleagues, I want to make some clarification. Whether we belong to the other side or this side, we should really uphold the spirit of nationalism. Having said that, the issue of extension workers is really a very serious one. We have extension workers in most of the sub-counties and people were contracting money for NAADS to people who did not have the know-how and were using our extension service providers to do the work. So what we did was that this money which is going out for nothing, instead of paying extension workers (Ms Aol rose_)- I am giving clarification as a minister of agriculture so please, let me finish.
Mr Speaker, the issue of terminating extension workers, which is being pushed by some of our donors, can really have far reaching consequences. The person telling you that we wanted to retire extension service providers and therefore we are going to use them is really misleading you. We are using money for NAADS; instead of hiring people, we are saving 50 percent to go to these people to do the job for which they are employed to do. It is not really that we are actually bringing something new. It is just efficiency in the system.
MR SEBULIBA MUTUMBA: I thank the minister for labouring, but he has not proved any point at all. The essence of bringing NAADS on board was to do away with the original agricultural extension workers, and it is in the books. What the honourable member is saying is that it is better for us to bring the books back and Parliament streamlines them so that the technocrats have a set path to follow.
Whatever we are doing right now, honourable minister, is ad hoc. We are not following what we passed in Parliament. They should bring all the laws and books regarding PEAP - PEAP has even expired - and we bring the so called new NAADS on board and then the technocrats can move chronologically. This should be done rather than making political statements and making technocrats look like liars when actually they are not liars. It is we, the politicians, who are interfering with the law we made ourselves.
Remember in the Seventh Parliament it was supposed to be a trail blazing project. Members came here and were asking, What about my county or what about my sub-county; why isnt it there or what criteria did you use? This happened and the thing became thin on the ground. What we should do is to get this policy and bring it here, streamline the law and let the technocrats work. Otherwise, what we are doing, honourable minister, is ad hoc.
MR TRESS BUCYANAYANDI (Independent, Bufumbira County South, Kisoro): Mr Speaker, allow me to at least put this issue in a technical context. The technical context is that in order for agriculture to move, there is what we call a triangle of technology transfer. At one end of the triangle, you have the farmer who is resilient and is willing to work for as long as he has shown profitability levels, and therefore we hold that as a constant. On the other end of the triangle, we have NARO - this one is also doing well. I think there is enough technological information available on the books to be able to allow the farmer to produce.
The third element which is of concern now is that one of extension work. The way it is now - and this is the major concern - is that this extension service or delivery system is not connecting the research information to the farmer to levels that are acceptable in order to propel agriculture forward. When it comes to this, then one can go into details to illustrate why it is not delivering the way it should.
If I am allowed to move a little further, as of now we are running a parallel extension service - the traditional one and the one of NAADS - which is in my view not necessary. We could have done better by using a unified extension approach.
The second element that is of concern is that the methods being used by NAADS are not technically acceptable. When you begin determining the number of farmers we want to use and you predetermine the method you want to use, like using groups, it is extremely wrong. In a technical setting, an extension worker is free to use the most appropriate extension method at a given moment because they are all useful and each reinforces the other. So, I think these are the issues about NAADS and the delivery system. I think there is need for a greater debate on this issue and maybe reshaping of that project. I thank you.
THE SPEAKER: Hon. Bucyanayandi, can I please ask you; which ministry is answerable for NAADS?
MR BUCYANAYANDI: The Ministry of Agriculture.
THE SPEAKER: Which ministry is answerable for Bonna Bagaggawale? (Laughter) I thought it had become a technical term. The reason I am asking this question is that I think we need two statements; one on the operation of NAADS from the minister responsible for NAADS and we need a statement on how Prosperity for All operates. The two ministers should come forward and make statements, which we will be able to debate and understand and be in a position to explain to our constituents.
PROF. OGENGA-LATIGO: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What is going on is just a manifestation of the need that my honourable colleague raised. We have been talking about the technical side of NAADS but the most crucial side is that under the Prosperity-for-All programme, we intend to spend about Shs 500 billion. It is a lot of money. If we spend it without technical preparation, without clear targets, without a clear management programme, what will happen? It will be like what happened with the money that we gave to people under Entandikwa. People ate the money, married, organised funeral rites and at the end of the day, nothing happened.
Agriculture is so central to the welfare of rural Uganda and to our economy, and it needs the money. It also needs the technical input to move it forward. What agriculture does not need is politics. Once you bring politics into the process, it is dead. It therefore becomes crucially important that we get statements from these two ministers as early as possible. They should give us a very clear exposition on what is being done vis--vis the framework that we have. What are we targeting? Where do we expect to go when we implement what we are proposing to do? We will debate that and when we do, we will probably find a clear way for this country. We all want investment in agriculture desperately but we do not want wrong investment in agriculture. We do not want that management of the process which has happened before.
When you look at this fundamentally, you are giving those rural households one million plus. In the first place, their problem is not money; the money you give them is going to be a very serious diversion unless the process of giving it is clear. We are also rushing these things; the technical people have even been called liars by ministers and they are the guys who are supposed to help you implement. Once they look at you and they know that you do not trust them, where will they end and whom are you going to recruit to implement?
Let this House take the concern of the shadow Minister of Agriculture seriously and let the House also take the suggestion you gave seriously. If possible, next week, the Minister of Agriculture and the minister in charge of Bonna Bagagawale should come here to make their statements and then we can debate this very exhaustively. The money involved is too much and the people involved are too many that we cannot afford to play politics with it. I thank you.
THE SPEAKER: I think we should end it that way - we get statements one from the Minister of Agriculture or NAADS and another one from Prosperity-for-All. One of the Prosperity-for-All people can say, I borrowed the services of NAADS; this can be stated, but let us know what we expect of each policy.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR HOUSING (Mr Werikhe Khafabusa): Mr Speaker, I request that we present this next week because we were actually finalising a few things.
THE SPEAKER: You have heard; there are certain issues which they want to sort out so let us give them more time. Let us adjust to allow the Minister of Health make a statement on Polio.
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