Increase funding in agriculture research, gov’t told

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By Gary Hatigeva

GOVERNMENT should take deliberate efforts to increase funding in agriculture research to increase food production in the country, members of parliament from the opposition and independent group said.

Their argument came in light of committee proceedings during the Committee Stage of the 2018 budget yesterday, specifically on the agriculture provisional allocation under the recurrent estimates.

MPs who contributed to the scrutiny shared similar sentiments, saying agriculture research is the brain to drive issues of importance for the sector and one of the inevitable developments in the world today that government can’t afford to ignore.

Most also shared, based on observations that with the increasing level of pests and diseases countrywide, increased research funding is needed to mitigate the upsurge.

Questioning the figures presented in the subheadings under the ministry’s programme for the highlighted area on public financing for agriculture research, there was further argument that agricultural research should be prioritised as security.

“As a country we must drive our own research agenda. It’s a security issue,” the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga and Member of the Independent group, Matthew Wale told parliament.

He said the country needs to make research that speaks to the needs of farmers, and highlighted the importance of disseminating researched technologies so that farmers across the country can access it, for the sake of making benefits from their crops and other produces.

One of his observations was that research institutions not having capacity to execute programmes that would help guide not only the ministry in its policy drive, but also farmers on how they can better meet requirements and standards if the country is to push for mass exports in crops abroad.

The arguments however reminded and reiterated that all constraints of institutions having no capacity to carry out its programs especially on research and other related areas, must be addressed.

The government was further reminded to take sometimes in the year to ensure relevant institutes involved in the areas pointed out are properly equipped and if necessary, in his earlier call at the Public Accounts Committee hearings, that allocations under any future budget supplements consider what is being highlighted under the ministry.

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