Agriculture Minister Hon Frank Tumwebaze has warned technocrats against turning the docket into what he described as a “project ministry,” saying this method of work “disintegrates the Ministry’s structure.”
Tumwebaze said while projects are good in a sense that they bring in quick resources needed to implement sector needs which the mainstream ministry can’t provide, “majority of staff are concentrating on projects and do not have a common cross-cutting programme of the ministry they work on sustainably.”
The Minister also pointed out that these projects are not aligned to “collectively known and discussed and agreed upon sectoral policies and strategies.”
The development comes high on the heels of increased public concern over the poor performance of the ministry in addressing the country’s agricultural challenges.
Despite contributing around 24.03 percent to the GDP of Uganda, agriculture still grapples with low commercial agricultural levels, lack of linkage between research and farmers, low use of fertilisers, low coverage of irrigation, land fragmentation, low level of value addition and high cost of finance.
Others include lack of agricultural machinery, vectors and diseases, poor transport network, climate change, post-harvest losses, high population growth rate and high cost of farm inputs.
Over 60 eight percent of the homesteads are not in the money economy, with many families still belonging to the pre-capitalist mode of production.
As a new Minister of Agriculture, Tumwebaze is keen on changing this trajectory.
He is said to have issued several policy guidelines to various organisations under the Ministry to streamline their work methods.
According to a memo dated September 15, 2021, which ChimpReports has seen, Tumwebaze also warned officials against what he described as the “solo mentality” which has led to failure of many projects and strategies in the ministry.
Tumwebaze accused some officials in different departments of personally running key projects without consulting their respective teams.
“Projects seem to be owned by individuals and are not linked to other departments,” he said.
“The work is not collectively understood and shared. At the end of the day, we get poorly designed projects not covering known priorities. We get projects that leave no impact or produce clear deliverables,” he advised.
Going forward, the minister threatened to deal with any officer who designs a project and proceeds to “negotiate with donors before we all agree that it fits within our priority framework.”
“We need to define correctly if we haven’t, the various policies required for the various sub-sectors under MAAIF (Crop, Animal and Fisheries). All interventions whether under projects or mainstream regular programs of the Ministry must all be speaking to the Policy objectives,” he said.
“I am, therefore, guiding and directing all of you to follow this principle. I will be demanding from each directorate, evidence of how each intervention(s) your directorates are carrying out or planning to do is/are linked/aligned to the known sector policies and priorities.”