Parliament rejects NAADs, UCDA merger

Parliament has rejected a government proposal to merge the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the Cotton Development Organization (CDO) and the Dairy Development Authority (DDA), into the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

The legislators’ decision was premised on the justification that the four agencies do not meet the qualifications suggested under the rationalisation policy. The MPs argued that the agencies such as UCDA and DDA are critical in generating both domestic and foreign revenue and that their mandates do not overlap.

“Under DDA dairy exports have tripled from Shs287.4 billion to Shs976.4 billion between 2019 and 2023. In the financial year 2022/2023, milk powder was the most exported product accounting to 54 percent of the total exports followed by UHT milk at 33.1 percent,” said Hon. Janet Okori-Moe, the Chairperson Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.

Okori-Moe was presenting the committee reports on the proposed mergers during the plenary sitting chaired by Speaker Anita Among on Friday, 19 April 2024.

She said sectors such as coffee, dairy and cotton require specialised agencies to monitor production and enforce quality assurance for export if the country is to sustain the current achievements.

“In all successful coffee producing and exporting countries including Brazil and Vietnam coffee is regulated by a special agency. The civil service mode of operation and service delivery cannot efficiently undertake and deliver this mandate and Uganda is not about to retract from the coffee road map of achieving 20 million bags by 2030,” said Okori-Moe.

The committee assessment revealed that government would not make savings from the mergers citing the DDA whose staff are dominantly scientists that would still be paid high salaries even within the ministry.

Hon. Elijah Okupa (FDC, Kasilo County) observed that government quoted a wrong figure for savings that would be made by merging UCDA into the ministry, saying the justification was misleading.

“The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development said they will save Shs80 billion yet the budget for coffee has been about Shs40 billion. He needs to apologise for bringing wrong documents to this House,” said Okupa.

In upholding NAADs, legislators said Parliament is preserving a significant contributor to food security and poverty eradication.

“Cash crops like tea and cocoa which have no regulatory agency are being promoted by NAADS. As a result of NAADS intervention, production in the tea sector has steadily increased with the country producing 81,675 metric tonnes of tea in 2022 worth US$38.36 million,” said Okori-Moe while presenting a report on the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The report stated that through NAADs efforts Uganda has become the food basket for the East African region such that about 40 percent of households have achieved a balanced diet and that at least 25 percent of Ugandans achieve three meals per day.

Hon. Muhammad Muwanga (NUP, Butambala County) said the House decision on the four agencies calls for proper appropriation of resources to boost their current achievements.

“What we have done is good; we all need coffee, dairy and cotton. Let us now ensure that during the budget process these agencies are well financed to full fill their obligations,” said Kivumbi.

Hon. Francis Mwijukye (FDC, Buhweju County) applauded Parliament decision reiterating food security and agricultural value addition as key achievements of the four entities.

The mover of the rationalisation policy who is also the Minister for Public Service, Hon. Wilson Muruuli Mukasa stressed the genesis of government decision to merge and repeal some of its agencies, saying the focus was to reduce wasteful expenditure and improving efficiency in service delivery.

Parliament on the other hand passed the Agricultural Chemicals (Control) (Amendment) Bill, 2024 and the Tyrapanosomiasis (Repeal) bill 2024.