AGRICULTURE undoubtedly forms the backbone of this country. Despite being a leading employer, many rural folks depend on it for survival.
And, the government has for a long time been promoting the sector through various initiatives, so as to uplift the lives of those who depend on agriculture for subsistence.
It is unfortunate, however, that many farmers’ efforts to kick out poverty and make it big in life are hampered by setbacks such as droughts, failure to access agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and seeds and dependency on rain season for farming. To add to the farmers’ misery were nuisance levies that were charged on agricultural inputs and products alike.
This made the going tough for them as well as consumers of agriculture products, who were forced to buy expensive goods as levies inflated the prices.
However, the announcement by the government to scrap 80 out of 139 nuisance levies in the agriculture sector for the 2017/18 fiscal year, is not only good news to farmers, but will also go a long way in improving their lives.
Presenting budget estimates for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries amounting to 267.8bn/-, the Minister for the docket, Dr Charles Tizeba, said it is the government plan to ensure that taxes, levies and fees that were a nuisance to farmers, pastoralists and fishermen are removed and leave only those having direct relationship with the development of the respective sectors.
As if this was not enough, the Minister went on to promise that the government will continue analyzing the other remaining levies and fees and see whether they have legitimacy to exist in order to relieve farmers from the burden of unnecessary levies.
This is good news to farmers as this will help them at various levels, either in accessing inputs or benefiting from their produce. It is important that the government continues to look into more unnecessary levies to improve the agriculture sector.
On the other hand, there is need for massive awareness campaigns to agriculture stakeholders so that news reaches farmers in the remotest areas of the country, to protect them from being taken advantage of.
Structures should also be put in place that farmers are not exploited through dishonest officials or dealers who might want to continue charging the scraped levies.
On the other hand, farmers should make sure that they are vigilant and whenever they are charged these levies, they report the perpetrators to responsible authorities for the law to take its course. They should also take advantage of the scraped levies and make sure that they improve their harvests and maximise profits.