Uganda Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Hon Frank Tumwebaze has declared a war of reclaiming land that belongs to the ministry that is occupied illegally.
“We need to go and launch a real war of reclaiming government land especially that belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture and we would need the support of the members of parliament,” Hon Tumwebaze said.
The Minister was speaking in the Eastern District of Mbale while launching the construction of the Mbale- Bungokho mechanization centre.
“There was a lot of land for agriculture, unfortunately, some of it was untitled but it’s known that this land is for NARO [National Agricultural Research Organization], this land is for MAAIF (Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries). If we don’t have this land how shall we serve the people? The districts will be under pressure to provide land which they don’t have. So I want to thank you for maintaining this land and I am appealing to all districts where there’s agricultural land- if you connive and you allow that land to be stolen you are stealing agricultural services that would include a mechanization centre for your people. You are stealing an institute for training your people,” opined the Minister.
The centre will be completed within a period of 3 months with the main aim of bringing equipment such as tractors, graders and bulldozers closer to farmers in Bugisu and Bukedi sub-regions at a low cost to spur commercial agriculture.
The minister was reacting to remarks made earlier by Mr Muhammad Mafabi who said together with the people of Mbale he had played a big role in protecting the land from land grabbers. “I have been around for the last 15 years. 10 years as the district speaker for Mbale and five years as a councillor. That’s why we thought that instead of leaving it idle we could partner with us some people to put up a similar mechanization unit that you are seeing here. So people have been rendering services to the population. Now that you have come it’s going to be more important for us,” said Mafabi
Eng Boniface Okanya, the project coordinator, explained that the project cost about UShs 3 billion and is the third Zonal Agricultural Mechanization Centre, with others put up in Dokolo (Lango sub-region) and Mpigi (Buganda region) districts.
“The idea of this centre is to bring services closer and nearer to farmers. Because we are all aware that farmers are faced with challenges that include low uptake of modern technologies among other things. So in this centre, we will have all the machinery that will promote agricultural mechanization. We will bring equipment that will help in constructing water services such as valley dams, fish ponds and others which will help control floods and mitigate drought. So instead of having that [rain] water wasted we have it harvested and put it in a valley dam and use it for irrigation and in fish ponds.” The mechanization centre, Eng Okanya said, will also help to open up farm access roads and arable land.