I am pleased to join you at the closing of this important retreat where you have been addressing the key subject of promoting and fast tracking the Agro-industrialisation agenda for the benefit of our people.
Hon Ministers, friends,
With Agriculture being the back borne of our economy and the main source of livelihood for millions of our people, acting together to add value to our agricultural products so that our farmers get more cash in their pockets is a timely undertaking.
As you are all aware, one of the biggest challenges our country faces, as outlined by HE the President and in our NRM Manifesto, is transforming the 39 percent of our population that is still outside the money economy.
We must do everything within our power and means to lift our people out of poverty and get them engaged in productive and business oriented agriculture so that they can earn a good living.
Agro-industrialisation is one of those ways through which we can achieve this. That is why I am very pleased to see that as one of the first actions of the new leadership of this ministry, the effort has been on this important subject. I congratulate you!
Hon Ministers, Permanent Secretary and friends,
A major approach in our 3rd National Development plan, is the Parish Development Model. With this approach, we are targeting making sure that all development efforts, resources and energies are directed closest to the people at the Parish level.
People must feel the presence and touch of Government in their lives, not through abstract concepts that mean little to them. Agricultural extension workers, provision of planting materials, seeds, and other farm inputs must be targeted to the people at the parish.
I want to add also that, beyond this kind of retreat and strategizing, I would like to see more close supervision of Government programmes and projects by the political and technical leadership.
In my travels across the country in the last three months, I have noted that the NRM Government has done a lot for our people, but we have not told and communicated it as widely and possible. This has often made the people question what Government is doing.
I have therefore directed that Ministers and other senior leaders of Government should regularly use radio and TV stations, social media and all other forms to tell our people what Government has done and is doing for them. If we don’t tell our positive stories, no one else will do it for us.
Agriculture focused programmes such as NAADS and OWC in particular must be closely monitored and supervised to ensure that there is value for money. We must ensure that our people are not eating the seedlings given to them to plant, or that the programmes are not being hijacked by the elites, middle men and the powerful, leaving the people we aim to support empty handed.
Hon. Ministers, the Permanent secretary, and staff, as HE President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni charged us at the swearing in of Cabinet, this Kisanja is about improving service delivery. It is incumbent upon you to ensure that we improve service delivery.
For this Ministry in particular, we all know the general outcry from our farmers on problems of poor agricultural inputs, lack of extension services, lack of markets, lack of water for production, among others. It is high time that we improved service delivery to our farmers.
Anybody who procures or authorises procurement of fake seeds, or fertilisers or acaricides is a criminal and should have no place in public service. We must not condone such criminal and corrupt acts and individuals who give Government a bad name and image. I hope these issues were discussed and firm solutions proposed to end them once and for all.
Friends, I want to bring it to your attention Hon. Ministers and PS, that, last Month as we were undertaking the Government Annual Performance Review, the general performance for the FY2020/2021 indicated that on average, Government achieved 40% against the NDP III target of 60%. This level of performance is not acceptable. We must improve this year.
In the same review event, we noted with concern that the performance of the Externally Funded Projects (EFPs), was poor. The major problem was low absorption of loans and grants due to procurement delays, and inadequate implementation capacity. This problem too, must be addressed.
Let me conclude by urging you to plan for uplifting the lives of Ugandan farmers; and not to plan to uplift your lives as bureaucrats. Expenditures on endless and unnecessary workshops must stop.
We want to see more resources on things that improve the lives of our people such as improved inputs, quality assurance and improved standards of agriculture produce, creating better markets for farm produce, improved extension services and farmer education programmes.
With these remarks, it is my pleasure to close this retreat.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja