Kabarole, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kabarole district authorities are stuck with a milk cooler and cold room facility in Rwengaju model parish in Rwengaju Sub County. The National Agricultural Advisory Services – NAADs installed the state of art facilities in 2019 to promote best practices and improve the production capacity in the model village.
The 2000-litre capacity milk cooler is found in Kidubuli village. Farmers requested the cooler, saying it will help them minimize losses resulting from poor milk handling.
However, before it started working, the farmers agreed that Tooro Dairy Cooperative takes over its operations by buying their milk, which failed to materialize. As a result, the two facilities have remained idle.
Timothy Ruhweza, the Rwegaju sub-county councillor who doubles as the speaker of Kabarole district council, says that the milk cooler machine was handed to Tooro dairy for management from inception but it failed to handle it.
Farmers withdrew milk supply due to poor pay and abandoned the facility rendering it redundant. Ruhweza says that they have since handed over the milk cooler to a new cooperative, which they believe will run the facility more reliably.
Richard Rwabuhinga, the Kabarole district chairperson says the cold room facility, milk cooler and the 27B water pump are on course and soon or later they will eventually benefit the Rwengaju model farmers.
Rwabuhinga is optimistic that the newly created Rwengaju farmers’ cooperative will successfully run the milk cooler since the farmers will be supervising the project themselves. On the cold room facility, the chairperson said it is still in the hands of the government since it has handed it officially to the district.
Eng David Mwesige Baguma, the chairperson of Rwengaju farmers’ cooperative society, says that they are working tirelessly to convince farmers to re-supply the facility with milk in order to have it revamped. Jacinta Mbabazi, Rwengaju sub-county chief, says that the facilities faced a number of challenges that include a shortage of power supply and the lack of finance at the sub-county to run them among other challenges.
“We don’t have power at the sub-county headquarters where the facilities were installed, we have written countless times requesting the entities concerned for power distribution for years nothing has ever changed. The machines are too heavy we need a three-phase power grid to be able to use the cold room facility and the milk cooler,” Mbabazi revealed.
Mbabazi is optimistic the creation of a cooperative society in the model parish will enable farmers to engage in collective bargaining to demand the usage of the facilities.
Abdallah Agaba, the LC 3 chairperson, says that the delay in handing over the projects to the sub-county has greatly hindered the efforts of the model farmers who are supposed to be initial beneficiaries. Agaba says Rwengaju being a new sub-county lacks the finances to facilitate the usage of the facilities.
Milton Bahati, the Kabarole District production sectary, says that the delayed handover of government projects to the district is affecting the people of Rwengaju model parish and the entire region at large.
Bahati says he has received a number of complaints from Bwabya Parish in Rwengaju of people complaining about the spillover of the water meant for production, which has created erosion in their gardens yet the water was meant for irrigation.