BY ALEX DADAMU
THE allocations in the 2020 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2020 and the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) are merely a stop-gap measure designed to hold the fort, not exploit the opportunities in agriculture posed by the current COVID-19 situation.
This was according to the Leader Parliamentary Opposition, Hon. Matthew Wale when delivering his address to debate the 2020 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2020 in parliament on Tuesday.
Hon. Wale said that in his assumption, the $20.3 million increase in the ministry’s recurrent budget under livelihoods is targeting food production.
“It is important that these scarce resources are targeted and focused to produce an adequate sustainable supply of food.
“Food security requires that food be stored in sanitary conditions.
And for most foods, storage requires that there is some level of processing to assure longevity,” Hon. Wale said.
Moreover, he called on the Minister responsible for the Agriculture Ministry to assure parliament if food security is adequately provided for.
“It is important that the house knows how much food is being targeted in the food security calculations, and the longevity of food products in storage as we face the uncertainties presented by COVID-19.
“Agriculture processing for export must be to international phytosanitary standards that help us overcome the bio-security/quarantine regulations in our export markets,” the opposition leader said.
He further added that this requires government investment and should be included in the ESP but he however added that it isn’t included at present.
“In light of these considerations, is the 2020 SAB 2020 ‘responsible’, ‘prudent’, contains ‘quality expenditure’, and promotes ‘strong & sustainable economy’? You can answer this for yourselves. But I think not,” Hon. Matthew Wale said.
The Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) have recently signed partnership agreements with certain farm management, one of which was the partnership agreement with SAPE farm management for mass cassava production targeted to produce an adequate sustainable supply of food.