Rwenzori Apple Farmers: Microfinance Support Centre Frustrating Us

Kasese:  Apple growers in the Rwenzori region have expressed disappointment with Micro-Finance Support Centre (MSC) for what they say is the funding agency’s failure to advance them funds on time for early planting despite a presidential directive to the effect.

The Executive Director of Kasese Apple Growers Organisation and Cooperative (KAGO), John Kimadi, told theCooperator from his office at Kizungu cell in Kasese Municipality that President Yoweri Museveni advised them to apply for the funds instead of “waiting for free things in their bid to improve the quality and quantity of the fruit grown.”

“We applied to MSC for funds but they have not responded to us even when we have submitted all the requirements. we wanted to use the money for buying seedlings but it is now getting late for the planting season Kimadi said.

The apple growers say the current planting season ends November, meaning their hope hangs by the thread.

MSC is a public agency mandated to manage micro-credit funds and offer business development services on behalf of the government. The agency says financing to agricultural cooperatives is a priority, of which KAGO is one.

Among its core responsibilities, MSC is expected to make it possible for the active poor to increase their household incomes through the extension of affordable financing to cooperatives and other organisations.

Kimadi said the Rwenzori apple farmers need fertilisers, pruning machines, pesticides, planting seeds, among others, adding that apple growing was a presidential initiative that should not be frustrated by anybody in the government.

“Apple farmers are now stranded with holes they dug after failing to access the loan they were processing from MSC,” he said.

The Rwenzori apple farmers, under their cooperative, KAGO, had applied for Shs2.1 billion to be dispensed in two phases – one for planting and the other for credit and savings.

Adonia Bazarwa, the field assistant at MSC, told theCooperator that out of 46 groups that applied for funding, only four [applications] had reached Kampala, eight were taken to the MSC regional office in Fort Portal and the rest did not meet the requirements.

“Micro-finance loan is paid in 12 months and every month, and I’m not the officer with the final decision on when the applicants can get the funds,’ he said.

Bazarwa noted that the major challenge was the inaccessibility of the group members and their delay to submit the required documents, adding that MSC was willing to release the funds for their development.

Meanwhile, Yelesi Kabugho, an apple farmer from Kilembe, decried theft of their fruits, saying that the government should come into their rescue before the situation gets out of hand like that of vanilla.

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