Three years, and the wait for Nakaseke District meat dealers to improve the quality of their product still continues.
This is because farmers are yet to benefit from an investment plan to have a modern abattoir established at Butalangu Town Council in Nakaseke District. This was expected three years after the district entered into a partnership with the Uganda Meat Producers Cooperative Union (UMPCU) for the multi-billion shillings project.
The chief executive officer UMPCU, Mr Joshua Waiswa, says the construction of the Shs18b abattoir had to be changed from the original implementation period of 2010-2012 to 2013 due to the long land allocation process involving the Nakaseke District council and UMPCU. The district council offered the 40-acre piece of land.
“The delay in accessing official documentation regarding the land offered to us for the project is the reason for the long wait. We wanted a land lease certificate from Nakaseke District council because our Norwegian donors could not commit themselves to funding the project without a clear land ownership policy,” Mr Waiswa told the Daily Monitor in a recent interview.
Demand for land title
He added: “It is not true that we were demanding for a land title as alleged.” UMPCU officials say the abattoir will be the first of its kind in the region and their plan is to boost the quality meat exports for the international market.
It is also projected that upon completion, the project will boost household income for locals who supply animals to the abattoir and turn Butalangu into a busy commercial area. “We do not want the people of Nakaseke to miss out on this project,” Mr Denson Bashaija a member of UMPCU said.
President Museveni, while speaking during the Heroes Day celebrations held at Butalangu Town Council in June, interrogated the Nakaseke District officials over continued delay in facilitating the establishment of the modern abattoir which is supposed to improve on the quality of meat for districts within the cattle corridor.
According to Mr Enock Nyongole, the Nakaseke District council speaker, the resolution was passed in 2012 to have a 40-acre piece of land allocated through a 49-year lease offer to UMPCU. He, however, said UMPCU officials had insisted on having a land title processed in their name (UMPCU) which the district council resisted because the land belongs to the people of Nakaseke.
“We want this project because our people stand to benefit from it but the officials from UMPCU had tried to complicate the process. Our position was to have the land leased and not offering a land title. Our commitment towards the project is seen in the efforts to have the land surveyed and inviting a government valuer with the aim of ensuring that the project takes off,” Mr Nyongole told the Daily Monitor.
The modern abattoir is meant to benefit the districts in the cattle corridor; Nakasongola, Kiboga, Kyankwazi, Masindi, Luweero, Ntungamo, Isingiro and Ssembabule to enable them produce quality meat for both export and the local market. Mr Nyongole also says Ngoma, Kinoni and Kinyogoga sub-counties have the highest number of cattle with each of them estimated to have more than 80,000 heads.
Mr William Ssenfuka, the Nakaseke District council clerk, also dismissed as untrue allegations that the council was to blame for the delayed project. “We have done what we were supposed to do. We could not rush this matter. We are now processing the lease certificate which will soon be handed to the abattoir project officials,” Mr Ssenfuka said. The district vice chairperson, Mr Richard Mavuma says they cannot frustrate any investment plan aimed at boosting the income of Nakaseke residents.
Who is to blame?
“It would be very unfair for UMPCU officials to claim that the district officials are to blame for the delayed abattoir project. The district council in 2012 passed a resolution offering a 40-acre piece of land which is an indicator of serious commitment towards the project. We had to process a lease offer because UMPCU is not a government body to guarantee the safety of this land in case the project fails. We act on behalf of our people and are answerable in cases where things go wrong,” Mr Mavuma said.
According to Mr Fred Rwabirinda, the district councillor Kinyogoga Sub-county, farmers currently spend more than Shs30,000 as transportation fee for each animal loaded on a truck to Kampala.
He revealed that the construction of the abattoir at Butalangu Town Council would cut transportation expenses by less than Shs6,000.
“The abattoir project will come as relief for our farmers who spend more than Shs30,000 as transport expenses for just one cow loaded on a truck to Kampala City,” Mr Rwabirinda said. UMPCU members argue that Uganda only has slaughter houses which produce meat which does not meet international standards.
“Lack of an abattoir that suits the acceptable international standards in Uganda greatly compromises the would be farmer profits and opportunity in serving the outside markets,” Mr James Magona, a member of UMPCU and resident of Ngoma Sub-county in Nakaseke District says. “Cattle transported to slaughter houses in Kampala face a lot of cruelty during the process which affects the quality of meat. Establishing an abattoir and monitoring cattle transportation will improve on the quality of meat products through value addition,” Mr Waiswa says.