The Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon Christopher Kibazanga, faced a tough time before Members of Parliament for failing to provide sufficient information on cassava research in East Africa.
Appearing before the Committee on East African Community Affairs on Thursday, 6 September 2018, the Minister fell short of providing evidence on the progress made by Uganda in becoming a center of excellence in cassava research in East Africa.
In 2009, the World Bank approved US$90 million for Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania to scale up regional cooperation in generation of technology, training, dissemination of programmes for the region’s prioritised commodities.
Subsequently, a regional centre of excellence for cassava was established at Uganda’s Namulonge Research Institute.
Kibazanga said that since then, four different varieties of drought resistant cassava have been introduced.
“We have zoned northern and eastern Uganda as cassava producing regions and so far, some private cassava industries have been set up,” said Kibazanga.
The MPs however, said that the Minister’s presentation did not have sufficient information on the efforts made by Uganda towards improving the productivity, profitability of cassava production and processing in East Africa.
Hon. Safia Nalule Juuko (NRM, PWDs) said that the progress made within the country should translate into regional progress.
“I suggest that we give the Minister time to provide evidence on how Uganda has performed in attaining the status of becoming a center of excellence in East Africa,” said Nalule.
Hon. Naggayi Nabilah Sempala (FDC, Kampala district) advised the Ministry to emulate Rwanda, which has made good progress in cassava production.
“Rwanda is not a centre of excellence in cassava production but it has the largest starch factory,” said Nabilah Sempala.
Hon. James Baba (NRM, Koboko County) asked the Minister to return with information on the efforts that the Ministry has made in harmonizing cassava production and exportation in the region.
“The East African region has become Uganda’s largest market for exports; it is therefore, important that we consider a policy review so as to respond appropriately to the market,” said Baba.
The Committee Vice Chairperson, Agnes Ameede (NRM, Pallisa District) gave the Minister two weeks to provide the information.