Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has directed the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija and his Agriculture counterpart Frank Tumwebaze to present to Parliament an action taken report on funds for the purchase of coffee seedlings to be supplied to farmers.
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This directive followed a petition about the plight of the coffee nursery bed operators around the country who are stuck with seedlings after the government failed to buy them for supply to the farmers this season. The petition from Devoted Coffee Farmers Initiative Uganda was presented by Sheema District woman legislator Rosemary Nyakikongolo and Mwenge North’s David Muhumuza during this afternoon’s plenary sitting.
Tayebwa said that many farmers across the country cannot afford to buy seedlings and have been waiting for government support after Parliament appropriated funds in the current financial year’s budget. He wants the two Ministers to study the petition and report jointly to the House on Wednesday next week.
“I refer this petition to the two Ministers. That is the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Finance. Please meet and bring a joint report on action taken on Wednesday next week. We actually need seedlings” Tayebwa ruled to the applause of Members of Parliament.
The Deputy Speaker who noted that his constituents in Ruhinda North, Mitooma District are also waiting for coffee seedlings in vain, said that nursery bed operators have suffered a lot because they had been assured of a market by the government.
He added that over the years, legislators have been supported with coffee seedlings to supply to their constituents and the 11th Parliament was convinced that the same will be carried on through the Parish Development Model.
“The Minister of Finance came here and committed himself that the government will buy these seedlings. We passed money and the season is on but seedlings have not been supplied. People have prepared nursery beds and are stuck with the seedlings. Farmers are saying we need seedlings but we don’t have capacity to buy them” added Tayebwa.
Kasaija’s commitment in May this year followed a concern by Bukonzo West MP Godfrey Atkins Katusabe who said that the nursery bed operators were counting losses because the government had not bought their seedlings.
In the petition presented during this afternoon’s plenary sitting, Nyakikongoro and Muhumuza noted that the members of the Devoted Coffee Farmers Initiative Uganda have in the past been supplying seedlings to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) which licenses them.
They informed Parliament that after the launch of the Parish Development Model (PDM), the nursery operators were stopped from supplying to UCDA but no progress has been made to take the seedlings from them under the new wealth creation program.
“The abrupt change of the programme with no prior notice to farmers especially the registered coffee nursery operators and farmers not getting coffee seedlings under UCDA has had negative implications” reads part of the petition.
Nyakikongolo said that if the seedlings are not taken up by the government for supply to the waiting farmers, the nursery bed operators are going to wallow in losses because most of them took loans to prepare the nurseries.
“The coffee seedlings estimated to cost Sh71b have over grown and are going to go to waste if no intervention is made by government” She stated.
State Minister for Agriculture, Bright Rwamirama assured Parliament that action will be taken on the issues raised in the petition.