By Our Reporter
Cabinet has approved a proposal to establish a Food and Agricultural Authority that will be mandated with food related matters, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze, has said.
Tumwebaze noted that the authority is the long awaited answer for food security and food safety, as it will boost the existing efforts to make the country food secure.
“The Authority will beef up the National Drugs Authority and National Bureau of Standards in ensuring that we are food secure,” said Tumwebaze.
He made this pronouncement while presenting a statement on the World Food Day, during the plenary sitting on Wednesday, 25 October 2023. The World Food Day was commemorated under the theme: Water is life, water is food, leave no one behind on 16 October 2023.
Tumbwebaze told MPs of the new crop varieties developed by scientists at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), all focused on boosting food production.
“There are two new maize varieties; Naromaize 63 PVA is an orange maize breed rich in Vitamin A and Naromaize 64STR with inherent characteristics for striga resistance. The two sweet potatoes varieties have orange flesh rich in vitamin A and are suitable for food and confectionery industries,” Tumwebaze said.
The minister also mentioned a new rice variety adaptable to low lands and a pasture variety rich in proteins, and less costly when compared to soybeans that have been the dominant animal feeds.
He hailed NARO for what he termed as scientific milestones and invited Parliament for a tour to NARO laboratories, to which Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa agreed.
“Next week I will lead a team comprising of the chairpersons for Agriculture Committee, Natural Resources Committee, Budget Committee and other experts in agriculture to visit NARO,” said Tayebwa while chairing the day’s sitting.
Tayebwa asked Tumwebaze to watch over the importation of pesticides banned from use in the western countries, citing cancer among the effects registered in their use.
“This issue was brought to my attention during a meeting with European Union, that there are pesticides which are banned in EU but are allowed to be exported to third world countries. They are manufactured in EU but are banned because they are bad, the cause cancers and the like,” said Tayebwa.
The Vice President, Jessica Alupo, emphasized the need for the ministry to watch over the use of pesticides which she said were responsible for a number of diseases.
“We need an update on the efforts in place to control the acaricides, because when we drink milk or eat meat they should not be contaminated. This is important because three quarters of our country depend on livestock,” said Alupo.
Alupo asked Tumwebaze to update the nation on the manufacture of anti-tick vaccine which she said has been budgeted for over the years.
MPs asked the minister to work out a sustainable plan on water storage and water safety, saying they have had to shoulder the burden for years.
Rakai District Woman Representative, Hon. Juliet Kinyamatama asked for a comprehensive policy on water supply and warned that failure for its provision in the Parish Development Model (PDM) will affect food security.
“We are giving people money but when drought comes we will see no more of the money we invested because we are not providing water. MPs are instead pumping money to dig dams in our constituencies,” Kinyamatama said.