By Our Reporter
Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze has proposed the introduction of Hass Avocado in Busoga to replace sugarcane growing.
Hass Avocado is a commercially popular and nutritious fruit and one of the 19 crops that the Ministry of Agriculture is promoting under the Agricultural value chain development strategy. The others are cashew nuts, banana, cassava, beans, fish, cocoa, cotton, coffee and others.
This came up when Tumwebaze, together with the Minister of State for Fisheries, Hellen Adoa appeared before Parliament’s Agriculture Committee to present the Ministry’s budget estimates for the financial year 2022/2023.
Tumwebaze is optimistic that the priority crops will change the agriculture sector and help regions that do not have perennial crops by introducing new crops for cash. He said that Busoga for instance as a region can benefit from Hass Avocado growing instead of sugarcane.
But the proposal to replace sugarcane with Hass Avocado was challenged by a section of MPs who said that the problem was not enterprise selection, but rather the lack of support for enterprises that people are already engaged in. Kagoma County MP Moses Walyomu said that there is no need to impose the Hass Avocado on the people of Busoga because they only need the provision of a market for the existing sugarcane.
Maj. Gen Sam Kavuma, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) representative in Parliament and Deputy Chief Coordinator Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) defended the proposal to have Hass Avocado introduced to Busoga, saying the Hass Avocado is tested and proven.
“We need to introduce these new crops to Busoga. Because if we say Busoga must continue with this crop that they have been engaging in for the past 100 years even if it does not benefit them, I think it is wrong,” Kavuma said. He added that there is a need to move agriculture from traditional feelings to science and research.
However, Walyomu said that Sugarcane needs to also be included on the list of the priority crops and that government needs to support the people of Busoga with the market for Sugarcane.
Janet Okorie-moe, the Agriculture Committee Chairperson said that Hass Avocado was well researched by the committee and Parliament before the crop was listed among the 19 priority crops. She said that the committee should see how Hass can be added to Busoga since sugarcane alone will not get Busoga out of poverty.
The Ministry has been allocated 1.534 trillion for the financial year 2022/2023. However, the Ministry has a funding gap of 280 billion Shillings meant to scale up disease control interventions, set up fisheries aquaculture ponds, hand hoes, scale up the acquisition of mechanization technologies, purchase of ox-ploughs and accessories, and other forms of mechanization among others.
The Minister also told MPs that while Uganda has 44 per cent of arable land, only 34.4 per cent is under agricultural use, and they hope to move it to 50 per cent by 2026 through the promotion of the Agricultural value chain development strategy.