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Finance Minister tasked on Zombo nursery tea operators’ compensation

KAMPALA, April 3, 2024 – The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija has been given a fortnight to provide an action taken report on compensation of nursery tea farmers in Zombo district.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa made the directive after lawmakers adopted the report of the parliament’s Committee on Agriculture on a petition by Zombo Tea Nursery Operators and Farmers’ Association on delayed supply of tea seedlings to farmers in the district.
“On action taken report, I would love to structure in a way that the Minister of Finance in two weeks’ time updates Parliament on what action has been taken,” Tayebwa said.

This was during the plenary sitting on Tuesday.

Presenting the committee’s report, Deputy Chairperson, Linda Auma said that whereas in 2022 government agreed to a one-off arrangement to procure and distribute tea seedlings across the 16 tea growing districts including Zombo, the seedlings have not been procured to-date.

She said that the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries [MAAIF’s] invited verified tea nursery operators to provide information about the quantity of tea seedlings they had in stock for procurement by the National Agricultural Advisory Services [NAADS].
“Zombo District Local Government in response to the ministry’s communication proceeded to identify, verify and instructed the selected nursery operators to raise over 10 million seedlings for its tea farmers,” she said adding that, the Ministry of Finance should compensate the originally verified tea nursery operators in Zombo whose seedlings have over-grown and are no longer viable for planting’.

The committee also called on government and Zombo District Local Government to urgently resolve the ownership of 10 acres of land offered by Alur Kingdom to government towards establishment of a tea factory.
“Zombo District Local Government should urgently follow up and complete the process of survey, registration and transfer of ownership of the land availed by the Zeu community for the tea factory,” read the report in part.

Auma added that based on availability of the land, government should disburse Shs19.5 billion to expedite establishment of the tea factory in Zombo.
“Establishment of a tea factory in Zombo has a potential to stimulate economic development in the region through creation of employment opportunities, provision of market for mature tea, technology transfer and payment of taxes.

The Okoro County legislator Gabriel Okumu  said that several tea nursery operators have lost their livelihoods as a result of delayed compensation by government.

Zombo District Woman Woman Member of Parliament, Esther Afoyochan urged her counterparts to take advantage of the current budgeting process and ensure that compensation of the farmers is in the budget of the 2024/2025.
“This report should be backed by finances so that people from Zombo who have been suffering with tea can benefit. A lot of tea has turned into trees, people utilized their land and have no more land for other crops. We therefore, implore the House to support us during the budgeting process,” said Afoyochan.

 

The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Joel Ssenyonyi said that government ought to compensate the tea nursery operators since they were verified and given a go ahead to grow the seedlings.
“Tea is the forth largest agricultural export; I guess that is why government encouraged the people of Zombo to venture in that field. But again, we have excited people and not shouldered them,” Ssenyonyi said.

 

The Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka however, urged the legislators to educate Ugandans about agriculture, saying that some people end up frustrated because they engage in farming without the required information.
“We must get a common position on what we are going to tell our people. What is for intensive agriculture and what is for extensive agriculture. What do we do with a four-acre plan? What do we do with 100 acres? We cannot continue exciting our people with everything that seems to have money and then when we come here, we say they have lost,” Kiwanuka said.

https://thecooperator.news/mps-summon-kampala-lawyer-over-shs-39bln-tea-farmers-compensation/

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