President Museveni has asked Officials from Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) who are in charge of National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) tea project in Kanungu to stop using middle men to supply tea seedlings to farmers, Chimp Corps report.
This came after complaints from farmers through the State Minister for Housing who is also the Parliamentary Representative for Kinkiizi East, Chris Banyomunsi that they had never been paid for the tea seedlings they supplied to farmers on behalf of NAADS in 2015.
Banyomunsi informed the president that although there were some cases of fraud where the businessmen claimed to have provided tea seedlings to farmers when they had actually not supplied, there were genuine suppliers who had gotten loans from banks to supply but were never paid.
“We need to address this issue. Our business men are suffering due to the mistakes of a few people. They are in hiding because they are unable to pay back loans that they secured to make the supplies,” he said
The chairperson LCV Kanungu District, Josephine Katsya while addressing the president raised concerns that farmers were supplied few tea plants, of which some had dried out and that they needed more plants for sustainability of the gardens as tea planting had become their major source of income.
“Mr President, we are very happy that you have finally given us the first tarmac road. We are also grateful for the tea project that has given birth to three tea projects. However, there are small issues that need to be addressed with that project,” she said.
The president was on Friday in Kanungu to Launch the Rukungiri-Kihiihi-Ishasha Kanungu road.
The president then spoke to a big crowd that had gathered at the Kanungu town council playgrounds.
In response to Minister Baryomunsi’s complaints, the president asked Maj. Bob Turyagyenda, the Head of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) Kanungu/ Kinkiizi East to explain why the business farmers had not been paid and why some farmers claimed to not have received the seedlings
Maj. Turyagyenda said NAADS contracted Tea Nursery Bed Operators in south west headed by businessman James Musinguzi Garuga to supply the seedlings to farmers.
However, some of suppliers were dishonest on the supply claims like wrongly declaring the number of farmers they had supplied and how many seedlings they had actually supplied.
“The suppliers directly supplied to farmers without informing us first. Then they came to us with cost claims. But when we went out to the farmers to ascertain their claims, we found that the tea plants were never supplied. Some had already dried out and some had supplied less than they claimed, so we decided to halt the payment until those issues are resolved,” said Turyagyenda.
The president who was speaking in Runyankole said the problem was using middle men and ordered that NAADS officials starts dealing with the farmers directly.
“Because they are many people involved, we cannot know who is wrong and right. In future, NAADS should not use any middle men. Deal directly with the farmers so that when they are challenges in future, we will know who to hold accountable,” the president said.
At the same function, two Youth leaders groups from Kanungu and Kinkiizi endorsed president Museveni for Sole Candidacy in the coming election scheduled for 2021.
The two groups gave the president gifts including a banner that asked him to be the sole candidate for NRM in the 2021 elections; a drum, a spear and other materials that symbolize power in the Kigezi region.
They further asked the President to stand in the next election so he can “continue the economic liberation struggle which you started.”
The president had earlier in the day launched several programs including a lake for a youth fishing project, clean water for drinking and a youth skilling center .