By Spy Uganda
Legislators on the Committee on National Economy have slammed the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries for poorly utilising the US$150m loan borrowed to boost productivity and market for maize, rice, coffee, beans and maize in selected districts.
The six-year loan, implemented with support from the World Bank under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ADCP) operates an online voucher system through which farmers access subsidised inputs. It runs from March 2015 to March 2022. The project.
State Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (Agriculture) Fred Bwino, while appearing before the committee on Thursday, 03 February 2022, painted a slick image of loan performance that legislators did not buy into upon realising that the productivity figures had been ‘doctored’.
Bwino’s presentation cited production figures of 2.9 tonnes of coffee per acre, which legislators said has never been registered even in the world’s leading coffee producing countries.
“Where did you get those figures? Is there any farm in Uganda where you can get all those tonnes in one acre?” asked Kimaanya-Kabonera Division, Masaka City MP, Dr Abed Bwanika. He revealed that whilst Vietnam and Brazil are leading coffee producing countries, they have not registered such miracles.
On using the loan to renovate community roads that connect farmers to markets, MPs said this was not a wise decision as government appropriates money for roads to the Ministry of Works and Transport.
“I don’t think the agriculture ministry should be constructing roads, other sectors such as works should handle the renovation of such roads” said Hon Paul Kwizera (NRM, Kisoro Municipality).
Dr Bwanika queried the criteria used to select communities that have benefited from road construction saying his constituency has been left out yet it is among the leading coffee producing areas. “If we are the first in coffee production and you have not given us a road, whom are you giving these roads?” Bwanika asked.
MPs observed that the project has not been impactful even as it is wrapping up. They revealed that the little that has been achieved is sub-standard and a waste of money.
Bukanga North County MP, Nathan Byanyima advised the ministry to concentrate in few districts where they would cause impact and thereafter, scale out to other districts.
“We should move from scattering funds where we have no impact, focus this money in few areas where you can see impact.” Byanyima said.
Legislators said reports from their constituencies indicate that the e-system is consistently down and that farmers say they were duped by the ministry.
“The information I get is disappointing, our farmers cannot access inputs because the system has been shut for a long time” said Jane Avur Pacuto (NRM, Pakwach district).
Bwino reiterated that the project has nevertheless registered some success and cited renovation of community roads which he said has been widely appreciated by farmers.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Maj. Gen. David Kyomukama, said the ministry has written to the World Bank to extend the loan by another 18 months to allow them reach out to areas they have not.