President Museveni has said that farmers who neglect seedlings distributed under the Operation Wealth Creation-OWC programme face arrest.
Museveni said that a law will soon be put in place to make it criminal for a person who receives government products but doesn’t put them to use.
“Don’t collect what you don’t want. Why should you ask for the seedlings then keep them in your house? I want a law that will punish such people,” Museveni said.
He was on Monday speaking in Katebwa Sub County, Kabarole district during an assessment exercise of the OWC programme.
Museveni’s comments were in response to Major Swaibu Thembo, the OWC coordinator for Bunyangabu County, who told the President that the programme was facing challenges among them negligence of the farmers.
Thembo said that in the past three months, more than 3,000 coffee seedlings have been distributed to farmers in Bunyangabu, but some farmers refused to plant them and have rotted, despite requesting for the seedlings.
According to the President, the government has spent billions of money to purchase the seedlings, but it’s unfortunate that they are not being put to use.
The President also asked the OWC commanders and district extension officers to educate the beneficiaries of the programme on good farming methods.
“Before you supply the seedlings, teach the farmers the good agricultural practices and the advantages of growing tea or coffee,” Museveni said.
Steven Muhindo, the chairperson Katebwa Sub County Farmers Association, admits that some farmers are negligent, while others resell the seedlings. He however noted that some of the seedlings are left to rot because the farmers don’t have enough land where to plant them.
Operation Wealth Creation which is run by Uganda People’s Defence Forces Soldiers – UPDF replaced National Agricultural Advisory Services – NAADS extension services programme in 2014. Currently UPDF soldiers are overseeing the distribution of seedlings to farmers.
In different parts of the country, negligence of farmers, lack of monitoring, poor quality seedlings and distribution of inputs to unprepared farmers are some of the challenges affecting the progress of the programme.
In August, the Kabarole district Production Coordinator Salvatore Abigaba was arrested for allegedly forging signatures of beneficiaries of the programme.