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Nursery bed operators stuck with seedlings as NAADs reduces purchase

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Over 1000 nursery bed operators across the country are stuck with overgrown planting materials due to lack of market. The nursery bed operators under their umbrella of Plant Nursery Operators of Uganda-PNOA-U have been supplying planting materials to the National Agriculture Advisory Services-NAADs at district.

The farmers entered signed contracts with NAADS in 2018 to supply planting materials up to 2019. However, in April last year NAADs halted the purchase of the seedlings affecting hundreds of farmers across the country.

URN has visited Green Hatcheries at Dundu, one of the main suppliers of seedlings to NAADS in Mukono district and found over 200, 000 overgrown seedlings of mangoes, oranges and coffee. Sections of grafted seedlings have started to dry up while others have fruits.

Kennedy Baguma, the Chairperson PNOA-U, says they are stuck with materials worth billions of Shillings in various districts, which have now become hard to maintain. He reveals that members got loans to establish nursery beds and are now hiding from financial institutions. According to Baguma, once the status quo remains the same, the seedling industry is likely to collapse, which will affect the association members and source of reliable and continuous supply of quality planting materials. Farmers under the association have been natured and are supervised by NAADs and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Ministry-MAAIF to ensure the supply of quality planting materials.

Kenneth Bigirwa, a nursery bed operator from Kakumiro district is disappointed in government programs, saying he borrowed Shillings 30 million from equity bank to establish the project, which has now turned into a burden.

Enid Kembabazi, an operator at Wakiso and Hoima blames NAADs for giving farmers poor projections they have failed to call off. She wants government to procure the the current orders.

“I have over 10, 000 mango seedlings, 50, 000 for oranges but for two seasons I have not supplied any and this time we shall not supply any in Wakiso. We request the president to intervene since we have injected in a lot of money, we are scared of being arrested over bank loans.”

Godfrey Maseruka, the Head of Planning NAADs in Charge of Central Region notes that they have been facing budget constraints to procure seedlings as projected. He however, notes that NAADs has made good supplies, saying majority of farmers lack land to plant most of the seedlings.

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URN

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