The establishment of a Shs47b cassava-sorghum industrial project in Kibuku District has stalled over lack of funds, Daily Monitor has learnt.
The farmers, who were set to benefit from the multi-billion project, which was expected to add value to cassava and sorghum, may have to wait longer after government reportedly failed to release the funds.
The project, which was meant to start early last year, is being funded by Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) and implemented by Fresh Horizons Ltd to promote food security through sustainable cassava production.
Mr Charles Kadyama, the chairperson of Kibuku District, on Monday said they donated about 2,417 hectares of land to the project because they had anticipated that it would promote mass commercialisation and industrialisation of cassava growing.
“As a district, we had anticipated that the project would by this time be in progress but unfortunately, there is nothing on the ground,” he said.
Mr Kadyama said when they tried to consult officials, they were told that the government had not yet released the funds to the implementing partner.
He said farmers had been mobilised to embrace cassava growing on a large scale to fight poverty.
“It was discovered that cassava is such a miraculous crop. There are countries in the world like China, India, Brazil and Malaysia that have turned around because of cassava growing,” he said.
Mr Kadyama said cassava has more than 20 components that can be used for manufacturing paint, medicine, ethanol and spirits.
“Cassava is an essential ingredient for pharmaceutical companies because currently most of the pharmaceutical products are imported,” he said.
When contacted over the matter, the executive director of UDC, Dr Patrick Birungi, told Daily Monitor that he could not discuss the project on phone.
The district production officer, Mr Michael Mbayo, said the project, if implemented, has the potential to increase household income and create employment.
“This would drive creation of jobs. It would also consolidate and increase the stock and quality of productive infrastructure,” he said.
During a site visit with the district leadership last year, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, said the government had earmarked Shs100b through the UDC towards agriculture and agro-processing.
The cassava production statistics by locality indicate that the western region produces 15.2 per cent, northern (34 per cent), eastern (36.7 per cent) and central produces 14.2 per cent. The Nankodo Sub-county chairperson-elect, Mr Sadik Wabwire, said it is unfortunate that the government has frustrated the locals. “The community was anxiously waiting for the project because this will be the only way people could move-out of poverty,” he said.
Eastern region also has the highest poverty levels in the country at 42 per cent in both rural and urban areas while Karamoja Sub-region stands at 61 per cent, Bukedi (48 per cent) and Busoga (42 per cent).