The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has directed the Budget and Agriculture Committees to allocate funds to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to manage and control a new aquatic weed called the Kariba Weed.
“These committees must find this money during this financial year — and [the] finance minister is not here; they are the ones who disorganize us. We must find this money. That is a directive from the House,” said Kadaga.
This follows a request by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja for funds to manage and control the Kariba Weed.
Ssempijja made the plea while presenting a statement on aquatic weed control in Uganda during the plenary sitting on Wednesday, 16 January 2019.
He said the interventions proposed in the inter-ministerial control strategy under the Office of the Prime Minister requires financial allocations to a tune of shs16.3 billion.
“Government still lacks the adequate human and machinery capacity to address the challenges posed by the Kariba Weed. We need better technology and that is why we are looking for funding,” said Ssempijja.
He warned that if immediate interventions are not put in place to control the Kariba weed, it will reach unmanageable levels and will be expensive for the country.
Members of Parliament expressed willingness to ensure funds are appropriated towards controlling the Kariba Weed. They said that the weed poses a risk to the fish sector in Uganda.
Hon. Margaret Baba Diri (NRM, Koboko district) called for funding of research to establish the cause of the weed.
“How are these weeds coming into our country? Are they being imported? We need to know their origin so that we can stop the weed,” said Baba Diri.
Hon. Felix Okot Ogong (NRM, Dokolo South County) said that if Parliament does not treat the matter with urgency, Uganda risks losing all its water bodies.
“We need to control the importation of plants because some of these plants are weeds,” said Okot Ogong.
Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba (Ind. Ndorwa County East) questioned the adequacy of the Plant Protection Act, which he said is an important law in controlling and managing weeds. He added that the ministry should not wait for the budget process for them to intervene.
Hon. Nathan Nandala Mafabi (FDC, Budadiri County West) advised that the matter be resolved at the East African Regional level.
“The breeding ground of the weed might not be Uganda. Uganda might be getting the end product. If we do not address this issue, we shall continue losing fish and income generated from the fisheries sector,” said Nandala Mafabi.
Hon. Edward Otto Makmot (Ind. Agago County) suggested that sanctions should be imposed on those found bringing weeds into the country.
“River Agago was named after a river, but it is no more. It has been eaten away by weeds. The ministry should find funds to deal with this issue urgently,” said Otto Makmot.