Coffee nursery operators under their umbrella organisation Devoted Coffee Farmers Initiative Uganda have petitioned Parliament seeking guidance on the government’s commitment to supply farmers with coffee seedlings on credit.
Represented by MP Rose Nyakikongoro, the operators said the seedlings were verified by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority in 2022 and are due for planting.
However due to failure by ministry of finance committee on the payment, the seedlings have not yet been supplied out and are over growing in the nursery beds.
“The ministry of finance, should allow coffee nursery farmers to supply seedlings this season to the ready farmers and payments be made later when funds become available so that the seedlings do not go to waste in the nursery beds,” they said.
They further argued that coffee nursery operators under Uganda Coffee Development Authority had not been warned to scale down production of seedlings yet the coffee roadmap of 20 million bags targets by 2025 had led to increased demand and production of coffee seedlings for farmers to plant.
They also said the coffee seedlings estimated to cost sh71 billion have over grown and are going to go to waste if no intervention is made by the Government.
“Farmers who were prepared to plant coffee in March/April 2022 were frustrated but have continued to demand for the seedlings,” they said.
Parliament last week put finance state minister Amos Lugolobi to task to explain the matter.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, expressed concern over the delay by the Government to provide coffee seedlings to farmers.
“This is a planting season and the rains are not going to wait for you. God is not going to change the seasons because the ministry of finance is still verifying the PDM SACCOs. Hon. minister, whatever you are telling us right now, but is not helping us at all,” Tayebwa told Lugoolobi.
This was after several MPs complained about the slow pace at which the Ministry of Finance is resolving the problem of supply coffee seedlings.
Lugoolobi explaining the delay, informed the House that the money for seedlings was repurposed and sent through PDM. However, he said some of the SACCOs through which the money is going to be channeled at ready and only awaits verification.
“We are going to send the money through the SACCOs. Some of the SACCOs have already been registered and only waiting for verification to ensure that the members are the ones supposed to benefit,” he said.
However, Tayebwa insisted that the minister provides a better explanation because the planting season has already started and the nursery operators want a commitment from the Government to supply the seedlings on credit.
Kabula MP Enos Asiimwe asked the minister to make a commitment to pay the nursery operators to allow them supply the seedlings on credit.
The Government through Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) has been buying and supplying farmers coffee seedlings.
The operators signed an agreement with UCDA to supply the seedlings for three years. The certificates are renewable.
However, the Government this time round, cut off the funds and channeled it through the Parish Development Model.
“That Parish Development Model programme has not yet even started. So, what happens to the seedlings that are growing day and night?” Tayebwa asked.