the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) under its Operation Wealth Creation arm and the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) about their roles and expectations of the different agencies.
The Sunrise’s Peter Muwonge talked to Phillip Mugarura, the Chief Staff Officer of the Operation Wealth Creation to clarify on some perceptions. Below are the excerpts.
Question: It was reported that you supplied rotten seeds to farmers that failed to germinate! How did this happen?
Ans: Foremost, the mandate for agricultural production in this country falls under the docket of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and they work through agencies such as NAADS.
responsibility as Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) is to play a supportive role to ensure that delivery of planting and breeding materials to farmers is done efficiently.
Question: Isn’t verifying the (planting) materials before delivery to farmers not part of your responsibility in this program?
Ans : True. But the type of verification expected of us is only in areas of non technical matters. For example if and when we are told to supply 100kgs of beans to a farmer, we can verify that (amount of beans) using a measuring scale. However when it comes to ascertaining the germination potential of these planting materials and other technical aspects is way beyond our capacity and mandate. But the ministry has a team of experts to handle that.
Qn: How do you comment about the perception that OWC replaced NAADS?
Ans: Not at all. As I’ve stated already, we are only playing a supportive role because there were gaps at the grassroots and that is why we have placed our officers in all such agencies to execute this objective particularly by participating in the distribution exercise.
Qn: It has been suggested that OWC would fetch better results if they were given the mandate to do the procurement of the very materials they distribute to farmers for accountability reasons .
Ans: That is absolutely wrong. First of all, government works through structures and structures are well defined. In this particular case the function of procurement is given to NAADS and there are those formal procedures that must be followed as well as people who must guide them.
For starters, we as UPDF don’t have officers who are qualified for this function. Perhaps in the future because as we take pride in doing things in phases.
In this first phase we want to work with the Ministry of Agriculture through its structures to mobilize the masses with a view to bringing them to the main fold of production in order to make sure that production goes to the peak.
In the second phase we are going to deal with the post harvest losses because currently much of what is being produced is being lost.
For us to overturn this, we want to ensure that what is produced is well dried, well stored so that we can add value to it to enable us secure a good market for our farmers to ensure high revenues and that is what is what we are working towards.