On Tuesday, it emerged that 15 heifers that were distributed to members of the Gulu Women Dairy Farmers Association under Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) between 2015 and 2016, have failed to conceive despite having been injected with hormones to increase their chances of conceiving.
The farmers are losing money on maintaining cows that give nothing in return. The scenario is a contradiction of one of OWC’s specific objectives, “to mobilise the masses to engage in commercial agricultural activities to boost household incomes”.
Even before this emerged out of Gulu, there had been hundreds of reports countrywide of delivery of poor quality seeds and animal stock. Many animals were not in calf and thousands of seeds had failed to germinate, which cast the coordinators of OWC in a very bad light.
In the middle of last year, the public relations’ officer of OWC, Maj James Nkojjo, moved to absolve OWC of any wrongdoing and instead pointed an accusing finger in the direction of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads).
“It isn’t within the mandate of OWC to procure. The procurement is done by Naads. OWC’s mandate is to distribute,” he said.
By the time Maj Nkojjo moved to absolve OWC, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture had on May 16, 2017, released a report on the performance of OWC in the financial year 2016/2017.
The committee established that OWC was plagued by cases of inadequate number of suppliers, supply of poor quality seed and animals stocks, late distribution of inputs, mismatch of priorities, supply of inadequate quantities of seed and animal stocks and failure to provide extension services and inputs like pesticides and herbicides.
The committee found that in some cases, would-be beneficiaries had rejected seedlings that they had been provided with while seeds were in other cases simply eaten up.
The report recommended that government comes up with among other things, new procurement procedures and establishes “a robust monitoring system in order to ensure value for money and supply of seedlings and inputs”.
So far, there has been no indicator that government took up any of the recommendations of the report, which is very disturbing.
What is, however, most disturbing is the fact that the top management organ of OWC, an inter-ministerial working committee chaired by the minister for the Presidency and comprised of the ministers responsible for Agriculture, Finance, Water and Environment, Trade and Local Government, is sleeping on the job! It must be woken up to give OWC some direction.
The issue: OWC management
Our view: The OWC top management organ, an inter-ministerial working committee chaired by the minister for the Presidency, is sleeping on the job! It must be woken up to give OWC some direction.