By Spy Uganda
Lawmakers have called for a probe into the implementation of the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP), citing failure to meet the intended expectation and lack of value for money.
The call follows an oversight visit by the MPs on the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to the districts of Kyotera, Rakai, Masaka and Kalungu on 12 July 2022.
The committee’s vice chairperson, Dr Agnes Atim, said that the mid-term monitoring and evaluation report presented to Parliament was contrary to what they discovered on ground.
“The report we read shows that everything was well in terms of supervision, project implementation and its impact. We thought for once we had a project that would change the lives of our people,” she said.
The ACDP is a partnership project of the agriculture ministry and the World Bank worth US$150 million that commenced in 2017, with the aim of raising on-farm productivity, production, and marketable volumes of selected agricultural commodities like maize, beans, rice, cassava and coffee in specified 12 geographic clusters in 57 districts.
Beneficiaries of the project, Atim said, were not trained as the agriculture ministry and the district leaders had claimed in their reports.
“With limited monitoring from the district and the ministry, we feel there is need for investigation to unearth any rot and misuse of funds,” she added.
“We have not seen the element of capacity building. The cooperative societies do not have proper books of accounts, no offices and no clear records of how they implemented the projects,” she said.
Atim added: “The first thing we noticed was the infrastructure. In our view they do not conform to the set standards except one cooperative society we visited in Kyotera. You do not know whether they constructed a store, a warehouse or just a building.”
Ngora district Woman MP, Hon. Stella Apolot, said that an investigation will establish if the project has met the intended objective.
“We arrived only to see people running around to plant signposts. It means the community has not been aware of this project. There is no value for money here,” Apolot said.
Rwampara East County Member of Parliament, Hon. Julius Tusiime, urged the local government leadership to embrace projects from the centre, saying that poor coordination and monitoring impacts negatively on other projects being implemented.
“All local governments look at projects from the central government and tend to say, ‘this is not ours.’ We have witnessed similar challenges in the education sector and in most cases the local government tends to shy away from monitoring the project effectively since they are not the ones procuring,”Tusiime said.
The Commissioner, Agriculture Extension Services, who also doubles as ACDP Coordinator, Dr Henry Nakelet Opolot told the committee that the biggest challenge in implementing the project is ownership and functionality of the machines.
Masaka district Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Betty Tinka, blamed some of the implementation challenges on the executive officers of various benefiting savings associations, saying that they do not respond to calls for engagement.
“Other challenges include power extension to where the processing plants have been established and as a district, we are working around the clock to see that we support the farmers,” Tinka said.