NAMUTUMBA. A Shs100m milk cooler that was meant to boost milk productivity in the districts of Namutumba, Bugiri and Kaliro lies idle, 10 years after its installation due to inadequate milk supply in the area.
The cooler in Nakyere Village, Namutumba Sub-county in Namutumba District, was in 2008 constructed as part of President Museveni’s poverty eradication campaign through commercial agriculture.
During the ground-breaking ceremony that year, dairy farmers and the district chairperson, Mr Michael Saire, hoped that with the cooler they would start packing and selling processed milk with projected earnings of Shs50m annually.
“We have learnt that our farmers are being cheated because they are selling unprocessed milk. We now hope that after completion of the project, farmers will be in position to sell processed milk,” he said during the launch in 2008.
However, Mr Ayub Mugole, the Nakyere Parish LC2 chairperson, on Tuesday said since then, the machines have never been tested due to inadequate milk supply.
Shift to coffee
According to Mr Mugole, Mr Saire has since 2013 unsuccessfully tried to prevail on the district council to pass a by-law changing the project from milk to coffee.
“We have more coffee in the district than heifers and therefore do not want a milk plant project. If government wants us to have a dairy cooling plant, by now every household should be having a heifer,” Mr Mugole said.
Mr Maliki Waiswa, the project caretaker, blames government officials and district leaders for poor monitoring.
“Since 2013, locals have appealed to the district leaders lobbying for a change in the project but in vain. The district leaders know there are few dairy farmers who can supply 5,000 litres of milk per day for the machine to run,” he said.
“President Museveni has visited Namutumba District more than 10 times but no politician ever told him that locals no longer want the milk project,” he added.
Mr Waiswa also appealed to the President to give them a coffee huller because coffee production is high.
Mr Hassan Mbogo, the parish councillor, early this year recommended that since the project had failed, machines be sold and leaders buy a coffee huller machine to generate farmers’ income through value addition.
He said the Operation Wealth Creation programme had not benefited locals when it comes to giving out heifers.
The milk project would by now be functional but 98 per cent of the farmers are coffee beneficiaries.
The Namutumba District chairperson, Mr Saleh Kumbuga, blamed past leadership for misleading the President.