The Parliament Committee on Agriculture has identified a number of hindrances including a mismatch in priorities, lack of extension services and poor conduct of staff that are preventing the full realisation of the objectives of Operation Wealth Creation.
Operation Wealth Creation was set up by Presidential directive as a replacement for the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) in 2014 with the objective of mobilising the masses to engage in commercial agriculture to boost household incomes.
The Committee observed that OWC distributed inputs late and would go to waste when not picked and that in some places the inputs supplied are not among the priority of those districts.
The Committee, which visited 12 districts including Agago, Oyam, Nebbi, Kakumiro, Kyenjojo and Kabarole observed that district headquarters where seeds were delivered for testing and onward distribution to the beneficiaries lacked adequate storage facilities.
“There is no equity in distribution of inputs, for example, the people of central region are only given seeds and seedlings. They expressed their need to also be given cattle/heifers,” said Hon. Lowila Oketayot, the Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture.
“The Committee was informed that the citrus that is being supplied requires fertilisers and pesticides which are not provided. Due to lack of pesticides, the citrus ends up being affected by pests,” she added.
Citing examples, the Chairperson said that Kalitha Farm in Kabarole district had received 50 apple, 70 orange and 30 mango seedlings whereas they wanted about 500 apple seedling because apples have ready market.
The Committee noted that OWC does not offer extension services, with the few available extension workers not operating in some districts like Agago.
The Committee said that some OWC staff had “commanded” legislators to facilitate people to attend training in Masindi, which was outside their mandate, and that some of the staff who were involving themselves in politics, were indisciplined and rude to people.
It was recommended that government puts in place a legal framework for implementing the OWC, which was being guided by Standing Orders of Procedure.
“The Committee recommends that OWC should emphasise quality when procuring inputs to be supplied to farmers and that the inputs should be in tandem with the demands of farmers,” said Hon. Oketayot.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Winfred Kiiza, asked government to provide water for irrigation so that people can grow their own food and stop waiting for handouts.
“We got a raw deal in OWC; let’s return to providing extension services under NAADS and let the army (UPDF) safeguard the country,” said Hon. Kiiza adding, “We have turned our people into beggars. I recommend that we redirect our minds, thinking and efforts such that Ugandans can benefit from OWC.”
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga referred the Report to the Committee on the Budget and asked government to respond to each of the recommendations made by the Committee on Agriculture.