Rukungiri, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Over 30 Coffee nursery bed operators in Rukungiri district are protesting non-payment of their money.
Operators argue that under Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) guidelines, they were contracted by the government through Operation Wealth Creation and Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to start-up coffee nursery beds and later distribute the seedlings to farmers. After implementation, operators argue that most of them have missed a payment since 2018.
Gashom Murera, one of the nursery bed operators from Ruhinda sub county says they happily joined coffee nursery bed business with hopes of reaping huge profits.
According to Murera, he supplied 30,000 coffee seedlings at shillings 350 each to farmers for planting in November 2019. Murera says that up to date, he has not been paid his shillings 10 million.
Peace Charleston, another nursery farmer from Buhunga sub county says that they lack money to transport coffee seedlings from nursery beds to the gardens due to lack of money to hire trucks.
Fred Kabagambe, another nursery bed operator from Bwambara sub county says that they had obtained bank loans to boost their business with hopes of reaping profits. Kabagambe, however, says that they are now stuck on how to payback.
Colonel Martin Nahurira, Operation Wealth Creation in-charge of Rukungiri district says that all measures need to be taken for coffee nursery bed operators to be paid if the coffee project in the district is to progress.
Dr Levi Kabagambe Bategeka, the Director on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) Board, faults Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and Rukungiri district agriculture department for failure to handle the matter yet according to PPDA guidelines nursery bed operators are entitled to their pay within 30 days after supply.
Kabagambe says that it is unfair for the contract between coffee nursery bed operators and UCDA to be violated under unclear reasons.
Edgar Nabasa, Coffee Extension Officer in charge of Rukungiri and Kanungu districts under UCDA attributes the problem to the change of the payment procedure. He explains that the new order from the Ministry of Finance requires them to pay according to the available budget rather than buying on credit.
Pius Kwesiga, Rukungiri district principal agriculture officer says that after receiving a new order from Ministry of Finance, they warned the public that incapable farmers should not engage in coffee nursery bed operation by obtaining bank loans because payment will delay.