KAMPALA, Uganda: The Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) has started countrywide mobilization of farmers grouped under cooperatives to benefit from the Presidential directive on Agro Industrialization for Local Development, thecooperator has learnt.
The Ugx600 billion fund supported by the World Bank has already been started in 8 pilot districts in Uganda.
Speaking to TheCooperator in an interview, the OWC Spokesman Maj. Tabaro Kiconco said the project has so far been kick-started in the districts of Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Kyegegwa, Ntoroko and Bunyagabo, and is expected to benefit at least 40 districts in the country.
Asked why the pilot was started in the Rwenzori region, Tabaro said the OWC Chief Coordinator Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh had personally been on the ground in the region to ready the community for the program. “Gen. Saleh has been mobilizing the masses and so far there are may cooperative groups springing up in the area. It is easier to work together with better-organized groups, ” said Tabaro
Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) has 18 regional coordinators, in addition to district and institutional coordinators spread across the country.
He said that OWC does an oversight role in ensuring that issues of quality are adhered to. “NAADS secretariat does the procurement and distribution, while we perform the supervising function to ensure that they deliver on their mandate,” said Maj. Tabaro.
He said the cooperatives will be trained to generate more wealth, eradicate poverty and increase improve on their livelihoods.
The pilot project according to Tabaro will also include the creation of two additional industrial parks in Kasese and Fort-portal, in addition to the one already running in Kapeeka.
There are so far 22 industrial parks spread across the country, at various levels of operations. The Namukenkera Industrial Park in Kapeeka is reaching out to farmers from the districts of Kiboga, Luweero, Kyankwanzi, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Mubende and Mityana.
“Kapeeka has silos where farmers from these districts can safely keep their produce. We have also started the E-Voucher Card system to support farmers from 40 districts access tractors, agricultural inputs, crop financing as well as storage facilities. That is why we are now saying farmers should unite as cooperatives so as to be supported more easily,” he said.
He said OWC had decided to introduce the E-Card system to eradicate abuse and corruption. “In the card, farmers know how much inputs they’re supposed to get, and if the season ends, the card expires. So it eliminates room for those who may want to thef ” he said.
Maj. Tabaro said the E-Card system is already functioning in Nakaseke.
Moses a Kirabira a commercial farmer in Nakaseke said the system is good in addressing abuse especially when it comes to the distribution of inputs.
Commenting on the issue of fake seeds, Tabaro noted that NAADS takes care to procure seedlings from the ecological zones where they are due to supply them, so they’re not affected by diversity in weather patterns. He noted that challenges such as issuing of contracts to firms that delay supplying agricultural inputs have greatly been addressed.
“Every district has extension and technical officers, be it agriculture, Veterinary, Forestry or Water, and these are the ones supposed to ensure that whatever is supplied to farmers is of high quality and standards,” he said.