Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Local leaders and farmers in Luweero are questioning how Major Roland Kakooza Mutale, the Director of Special Duties in the President’s Office ended up as one of the beneficiaries of a tractor intended for farmer groups.
Government through the National Agricultural Advisory Services procured 280 tractors and matching implements (disc and hallow) for farming communities in various districts in the country.
Luweero district received three tractors to benefit three farmer groups including Civil Education and Development Organization (CEDO), Bakyabumba Farmer’s Cooperative Society Limited and Zirobwe Agali Awamu and Training Association.
However, on Wednesday, the Luweero Chief Administrative Officer, Godfrey Kuruhiira and the Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mariam Kagaiga handed over a tractor to Kakooza Mutale as the Director of Civil Education and Development Organization (CEDO).
This has triggered protests from local leaders and farmers in the Luweero district. Ronald Ndawula, the Luweero district LC 5 chairperson, says Kakooza Mutale’s group was handpicked by the NAADS secretariat in disregard of the guidelines.
He explains that Mutale’s group wasn’t not among the list of five farmer groups that were recommended by the district to NAADS for consideration. Ndawula says this contravenes the guidelines, which mandates the selection commit to vet the beneficiaries.
URN has seen an April 30th, 2019 letter by Luweero Chief Administrative Officer, Godfrey Kuruhiira recommending five groups to the NAADS secretariat for consideration. They include Bakyabumba Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited, Luweero District Farmers’ Association and Luweero Pineapples Farmer’s and Traders Association, James Kakooza, a Nucleus farmer and Zirobwe Agali Awamu and Training Association.
The district attached minutes of the select committee confirming that the groups were assessed and inspected as fit to receive tractors. Kakooza Mutale’s group, the Civil Education and Development Organization was not among those was recommended by district.
Abbey Ssozi Bakisuula, the Luweero District Production Secretary, says they recommended the groups to ensure that tractor rotate and serve large communities, which may not be possible if one goes to an individual. He also says that they are not sure whether Mutale works with some farmers since they didn’t visit his organisation.
Jimmy Wamala, the Chairperson Luweero Pineapples Farmers and Traders Association, says that they applied for a tractor because they incur huge costs to hire private tractors. He explained that they spend at least Shillings 600,000 per day to hire a tractor to clear three acres of land to grow pineapples.
Wamala says they are disappointed that their group comprising 40 members was rejected in favor of Mutale’s organization, which has no known farmer. He said this confirms claims that government officials are the ones benefiting from programs intended for poor farmers.
Other farmers complained that it will be difficult for them to hire the tractor from Kakooza Mutale because his farm is inaccessible and he is a feared army officer.
Farmers and local leaders have tasked the NAADs secretariat to explain how organization that wasn’t inspected and vetted by the district ended up benefiting from the tractors intended for farmer groups.
However, Mutale told URN that he asked for the tractor through the Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries Minister, Vincent Ssempijja in January 2019 and is happy that his request has been honored.
Mutale explained that he is a mechanized farmer operating on 3 square miles of land and asked farmers to visit his farm in Matembe village in Luweero for training.
Godfrey Kuruhiira, the Luweero Chief Administrative Officer says the district signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kakooza Mutale to ensure that farmers access his farm and hire the tractor. Kuruhiira asked the farmers to present any emerging issues to the sub county extension officer in case they fail to access the farm.
Our reporter couldn’t reach Dr. Samuel K Mugasi, the Executive Director NAADs Secretariat to comment on the story. By donating tractors to farmers seeks to mechanize agriculture and increase profitability in farm operations, reduce drudgery and labor requirements.