Results-oriented budget

❚Bashe parades mega plans to spur youth employment
❚ 3,000,000 job opportunities to be created by 2030
❚ More focus on irrigation infrastructure, value addition

THE Ministry of Agriculture is planning to create 3,000,000 jobs by 2025 through various strategies.

This was said in the National Assembly here yesterday by the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Hussein Bashe, when he was tabling the ministry’s budget estimates for the financial year 2023/24.

Some of these projects include the Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT) programme, which will empower young people and women to participate in agricultural activities.

Mr Bashe has requested the August House to approve 970,785,619,000/- for the ministry’s budget for the coming financial year, which is an increase of 29.24 per cent compared to 751,123,280,000/- that was approved by Bunge for the 2022/2023.

The minister said out of the 970,785,619,000/-, a sum of 767,835,139,000/- is for the development projects, while 112,019,631,000/- is for recurrent budget.

He said that in the financial year 2023/2024, the ministry will continue to empower youth and women by building their capacity and providing them with capital and farms equipped with irrigation infrastructure, noting that the ministry will also encourage establishment of large common farms to enable young people to participate in agriculture and involve the private sector.

“The ministry has planned to establish a total of 1,000,000 hectares which is equal to 2,500,000 acres by 2025 to cater for the youth and women. The cost of clearing, land leveling and construction of irrigation infrastructure for one hectare is at an average of 16,800,000/-. In implementing that goal, the ministry in collaboration with the private sector and financial institutions will invest 16.8tri/- by 2030. When this area is completed, it will create 1,500,000 jobs,” Minister Bashe said.

He said the 1,000,000 hectares will have modern technologies that will be used for production of grain crops and horticulture, adding that it will increase the production of grain crops to 3,500,000 tonnes and enable farmers to earn income of an average of 1.75tri/-, which is about 7,000,000/- per farmer every season.

He said that for the financial year 2023/2024, his ministry will continue strengthening value addition of agricultural products, to increase sales domestically and abroad, including building integrated centers (Common use facilities).

Elaborating, Mr Bashe said to build a stable private sector as well as stable and reliable markets, it is the responsibility of the government to support and empower its domestic sector.

In the course, the ministry is planning to increase export of crops from 1.2 billion US dollars to 5 billion US dollars by 2030, saying in 2023/2024, the ministry through its institutions, boards and the private sector will increase sale of various crops by five per cent to reach 1.457 billion US dollars.

“This plan will enable increased sales of some products, where cotton will increase from 227.1 million US dollars to 238.46 million US dollars, tobacco from 355 million US dollars to 372.75 million US dollars,” he said.

On the same breath, the ministry will continue to cooperate with financial institutions in strengthening the provision of loans with low interest rate in the agriculture sector, saying through Agricultural Inputs Trust Fund (AGITF), will provide loans worth 800m/- to facilitate young people to get capital through the BBT programme at an interest rate not exceeding 4.5 per cent.

At the same time, the commission will continue to manage and regulate Cooperatives by inspecting 7,300 associations and implement a plan to build the capacity of cooperative officers, leaders and executives.

“In any nation in the world, the first security of a country is its self-sufficiency in food, there is no real progress if there is no food, but there will be no food if there are no farmers. I and the Ministry will continue to protect the interests of farmers and agriculture industry stakeholders.

In regard to the implementation of the current budget, Minister Bashe said by April this year, the government has already disbursed 549,955,905,275/- equivalent to 73.22 per cent, out of which a sum of 470,755,975,006/- is for the execution of development project, while 79,199,930,268/- for recurrent budget.

Equally, Mr Bashe informed the House that by April this year, construction and rehabilitation of a total of 48 out of 69 irrigation schemes, which is equivalent to 70 per cent of the projects, were being implemented. The projects covering 58,807 hectors are being implemented at the cost of 234bn/-.

“A total of 48 contractors are going on with the implementation of the projects in 15 regions,” Mr Bashe said, adding that a sum of 85bn/- has already been paid to contractors and the government will continue to offset the bill whenever the contractors submit interim certificates.

He said the projects are expected to be completed in a period of 18 to 24 months, while also the implementation of the projects has created 298,835 direct and indirect jobs.

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