What you need to know:
- The farmers claim they are losing millions of money due to the delayed construction of a fruit factory yet the government is silent.
Fruit farmers in Nwoya District have appealed to the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) to intervene in what they call deliberate frustration by the Uganda Development Cooperation (UDC) to construct a fruit processing factory.
Mr Vincent Langole, the chairperson of the board of the Nwoya Fruit Farmers’ Cooperative Society comprising mango and citrus outgrowers under Delight Farm, at the weekend told MPs that UDC has deliberately failed to allow the government construct the factory.
Mr Langole added that they are losing millions of money yet the government is silent to their pleas.
Nearly 15,000 farmers grow and supply mangoes in the district. When President Museveni directed that the processing plant be constructed, the farmers—most of whom grow mangoes— invested heavily knowing that their produce would be absorbed .
The Shs19b factory was expected to have an output of at least 12 metric tonnes per hour.
Ms Juliam Adyeri Omala, a farmer, who has more than 1,700 hectares of fruit trees, said for the past three financial years, UDC has denied them the opportunity to access funds from the government to construct the fruit processing plant.
She said UDC claims that they still have challenges such as access roads, electricity, and clean water.
Ms Adyeri requested APG to persuade the government to give her an interest free loan to install the processing plant.
Ms Catherine Lamwaka, the Omoro Woman MP, said an investigation will be launched to ascertain reasons behind UDC’s delay in releasing or advising government on the funds.
Ms Lamwaka said the fruit factory will improve the livelihoods of the farmers and the community.
Wants UDC summoned
Mr Geoffrey Okello Charles, the Nwoya County MP, wants UDC and all other relevant government agencies to be summoned to the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Tourism, and Industries to answer the allegations of frustrating government projects.
Mr Okello also tasked the management of Delight Farm to have a master plan, including the required amount of money so that the factory kicks off.
However, Mr Patrick Birungi, the UDC executive director, earlier dismissed the allegations.
“It is not true that support has not been given. We get most of our funding through the budget process. Only in this last quarter did we get some releases related to that particular project. But we also have a responsibility to make sure the investment we go in is well planned to minimise losses of public resources,” Mr Birungi said.
“There are still some gaps that we are tying knots to make sure appropriate infrastructure is in place; otherwise you will have a building and equipment with no electricity,” he added.
One of the UDC staff, who preferred anonymity, said the agency was allocated only Shs5b as capital.
He said they are now lobbying with other government agencies to have more funds and technical support, including opening an 11km road linking the farm to the Karuma Pakwach high through installing a bridge on Aswa river, connecting electricity as well as addressing the clean water challenge.
In a recent interview, Mr Anthony Akol, the Kilak North MP, urged government to consider allocating money to transport the fruits from Nwoya to Soroti fruit factory in the meantime. Mr Akol said the government used this option to support sugarcane farmers from Busoga to ferry their canes to Atiak Sugar factory in Amuru District. Currently, there are more than 18,000 fruit farmers in Nwoya, with 6,000 being outgrowers.