Farmers in Mukono District have expressed their disappointment towards National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) after they failed to get buyers for their nursery bed seedlings.
The nursery bed farmers under their umbrella, Plant Nursery Operators of Uganda-PNOA-U, claim Naads and OWC officials advised them to grow a variety of seedlings to be supplied to the farmers but have not supported them.
“Naads asked us to plant surplus seedlings with promises that they would buy from us but they either buy too few or take them on credit. We end up making losses,” Mr Kenneth Baguma, the chairperson of PNOA-U, said on Wednesday.
He said they received contracts in 2018 to supply planting materials for two years but Naads halted the process in April last year.
When Daily Monitor visited the farmers yesterday, one of the major supplying centres of Green hatcheries at Dundu Village in Mukono, was found stuck with more than 200,000 mangoes, oranges and coffee seedlings.
Some grafted seedlings have started drying up while others are competing with weeds.
Mr Baguma said they are stuck with planting materials worth millions of shillings in various districts which have now become hard to maintain.
He said members got loans to establish nursery beds but they are now spending much of their time hiding from financial institutions.
“Once the status quo remains as it is, our companies are likely to collapse, which will affect the association members who have been supplying good quality seedlings,” he said.
Another seedlings operator from Busoga Sub-region, Mr Abed Kakaire, said he borrowed Shs20 million from the bank to establish the project which has turned out to be a burden.
He said more than 10, 000 mango and 30, 000 orange seedlings have not been bought.
Ms Sarah Nakijjoba, another farmer, requested President Museveni to intervene. “Let government come to our rescue because we are stuck and have no money to pay back the loans,” she said.
The Naads head of planning in the central region, Mr Godfrey Maseruka, said they have been facing budget constraints to procure seedlings as projected.
He, however, said Naads have made good supplies where majority of farmers currently lack land to plant many of the seedlings.
Government vision is to transform Uganda from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country by 2040.
In this regard, the Agriculture sector is one of the priority investment areas for driving the country towards the realisation of the vision.
At the global level, government’s intervention in the agriculture sector aims at contributing to the attainment of the sustainable development goals.