It is critical for government to take deliberate efforts to increase funding in agriculture research to benefit farmers in the country, civil society organizations have demanded.
The plea came amidst emerging reports of a funding crisis currently rocking the National Agricultural Research Organization [NARO], a body formed under Ministry of Agriculture to spearhead research and modernization of the agricultural sector in the country.
Presenting a paper on critical CSO concerns on public financing for agriculture research, Julius Mukunda, the Coordinator of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) said that agricultural research should be prioritized to help the country mitigate the pests and disease upsurge as well as mitigate climate change.
“The current funding available for agriculture research in the financial year 2014/15 is majorly funded by donors, which comes with so many conditions. Particularly, 92% of the NARO budget translating into Sh 110.67 Mn, is donor funded which is worrying. We must fund our own research and drive our own research agenda. It’s a sustainability issue,” he said.
Mukunda was speaking on Wednesday to members of civil society, farmers, district production officers, and Members of Parliament officials during a conference organized by CSBAG to coincide with the 2nd Annual Research Conference organized by NARO.
He highlighted the importance of disseminating research technologies so that farmers across the country can access and apply them.
Speaking on behalf of NARO, Dr. Imelda Kashaija the Deputy Director General Technology Promotion and Innovation Research confirmed the need for prioritizing funding to agriculture research.
She asked CSOs to help NARO lobby for adequate funding to address some of the critical needs it has.
“The notion that NARO has adequate funding is untrue; for example, we need to be funded adequately to acquire our own land, as most of our research institutions do not own the land where they are currently housed. Dr. Imelda stated.
“Most of our institutions have very old and dilapidated structures; if we are adequately funded we would modernize them to have state of the art laboratories for innovation and incubation of our research technologies” she further indicated
Both Dr. Imelda and Dr. Evelyn Kyomutunga of NARO observed that combined concrete investment is needed by both government and external financiers. They both called for the support of other actors including the Members of Parliament to have joint actions that are geared towards improving innovations in agriculture research as well as improving farmers’ levels of uptake of agriculture research.
Moyo Woman MP Anne Auru also a member of the Parliamentary Forum on Food Security, Population and Development commended NARO for its research efforts which have helped improve farmer’s productivity. She cited a case of cassava samples supplied to farmers in her constituency which has greatly improved their production and productivity. She however appealed to NARO to improve on mechanisms of disseminating its research for improved uptake.
On the need to increase financing its national budget and prioritize areas like agriculture research Hon. Auru called on members present to appreciate that government is making all efforts to finance its own budgets stating that at least 80% of the current financial year budget is funded from domestic sources.