Rice paddie in the Zeus Agro Farm Limited in Bulambuli district PHOTO/SHIFTMEDIA
By PATRICK JARAMOGI
APAC- SHIFTMEDIA- The Microfinance Support Center is at the center of the storm regarding the delayed release of shs8.2b meant for farmers.
In 2020 over 40,000 farmers READ: ( https://shiftmedianews.com/40000-farmers-petition-m7-over-delayed-release-of-shs10b-by-microfinance-support-center-for-seeds/ in northern Uganda missed out on the planting season due to delayed release of the funds by the center.
Apparently, over 5,000 farmers from the Lango sub-region are set to miss out again this year, as the planting season seems to come to wind after April.
The delayed release of the funds by the Micro Finance Support Center has led to the underperforming of the scheme in north and Eastern Uganda and continues to demonstrate the inadequate institutional capacity of MSC.
Hon David Ebong the CEO and Managing Director of Clean Energy Partnership Africa (CEPA) Limited that mobilized the farmers in Apac, Kole, and Kwania has no kind words for MSC.
His efforts to write to MSC, the Minister of Finance Hon Matia Kasaija, Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi have all hit a dead end.
In an April 15, 2021 letter Letter to MoFPED to Kasaija, Muhakanizi, and Ocailap Patrick, the Ag Director of Economic Affairs that we obtained, Ebong noted that CEPA had mobilized over 5,000 farmers and 6700 acres of land in the first season (2021). “On January 27th, 2021 I wrote to MSC and availed the list of the farmers from 44 farmers groups and cooperatives with over 7,000 acres of land ready for rice growing. My pleas weren’t heard,” said Ebong in his letter to top Finance officials.
Sounding rather agitated, Ebong said in the missive: “MSC must be radically reformed and the officials held accountable to reverse the unacceptable relationship that dis-empower and keep smallholder farmers locked up in chronic poverty.”
President Museveni during is campaigns in northern Uganda promised action against the delayed release of funds.
Ministry of Agriculture intervenes
What is rather perturbing is obdurate of MSC, on February 17th, 2021, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Pius W Kasaijja wrote to the Executive Director Microfinance Support Center requesting the release of Shs8.2 balance meant for the supply of rice seeds to farmers.
The farmers were from the districts of Pallisa, Buddaka, Butebo, Butaleja, Ngora, Namutumba, Mayuge, Luuka, Kumi, and Bukedea.
You must recall that Government through MAAIF and MSC signed a memorandum of Understanding with Zeus Agro Limited (Zeus) to support Rice farmers in eastern Uganda to access high-quality seeds in a sustainable manner.
The purpose of this was to cease rice importation and boost local rice production.
The PS in his letter PS MAAIF letter to the MSC boss observed that out of the Shs10 billion allocated by the government for this cause, only shs1.8b had been released.
“This is, therefore, to advise that you prioritize and release the balance of shs8.2 Billion to Zeus Agro Limited to enable them to supply the remaining seeds to farmers in Pallisa, Budaka, Butebo, Butaleja, Ngora, Namutumba, Mayuge, Luuka, Kumi, and Bukedea,” penned Wakabi
We discovered that MSC released shs1.57b in January 2021 and another Shs303m in February to Zeus Agro Ltd.
This release was used to provide seed packs, and fertilizers to 980 farmers growing rice in 3,660 acres provided by Zeus.
Elizabeth Kasenene Rumanyika the Director Zeus Agro Limited in a letter dated 10th February 2021
MOFPED -ZEUS MSC addressed to Finance Minister (that we obtained) said farmers had planted the seeds that had germinated well. “The seeds in the nursery bed germinated well and will mature by April 2021. The expected yield is 2.5 tonnes of rice per acre,” said Kasenene.
She said they expect to harvest 10,500 tonnes of rice from what the farmers have planted.
Who has been left out?
What needs urgent address is the plight of 1077 farmers who have secured 4000 acres of land in the districts of Apac, Kwania, Dokolo, Alebtong, and Oyam.
Another batch of 2,000 farmers with 8,000 acres of land from Agago, and an additional 3,000 farmers with 8,000 acres in the districts of Madi Okullu, Koboko, Maracha, Arua, Yumbe, Terego, Packwach, Nebi, and Zombo are also waiting for seeds to plant.
According to Elizabeth Kasenene, these farmers will need a seed pack valued at Shs30b that wasn’t included, as well as
Efforts to reach out to Microfinance support center bosses were futile as our calls weren’t answered.