By Prossy Nandudu
Farmers who have benefited from the E Voucher system, under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP) have appealed to the World Bank to renew the project that comes to an end in March this year.
The farmers made the appeal on Wednesday during a World Bank-MAAIF mission tour of beneficiaries of the project, implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in Eastern districts of Bugweri, Kaliro, Mbale and Kumi, that ended on Thursday.
Under the E-Voucher system, farmers contributed a certain percentage towards the purchase of agro inputs, and then the government contributed the bigger percentage.
Agro inputs that were accessed by farmers under this system cut across the value chain such as Seeds, Herbicides, fertilizers, machinery Tarpaulins among others.
To ensure quality, the system incorporated a list of agro input dealers to supply the farmers with the requested inputs, added the commissioner Extension and Skills Development and coordinator of the ACDP project in the Ministry of Agriculture Henry Nakalet Opolot.
Opolot added that the $ 150-million-dollar credit facility project from the IDA of the World Bank, and supplemented by $98m contribution from farmers and farmer organizations was aimed at raising on-farm productivity, production to attain volumes needed by the Market of selected commodities. These include maize, rice, beans, cassava and coffee in 57 districts across the country.
According to the district Chairman of Bugweri District, Hajj Sharif Muziransa, farmers benefited from Value addition machines, farm access roads and access to agro inputs that has since boosted production.
“Our yields were very low for both maize and rice. From an acre of Rice, we used to harvest about 400kgs.
When you came and introduced us to quality seed, from an acre, people are getting 2500 kilograms. Personally, I am getting 2000 kilograms from one acre of rice. Before your intervention, it was normal for us to harvest 400kgs,” Muziransa told the visiting team at Bugweri district headquarters on Wednesday.
Apart from increase in crop yields, Muziransa added that through the project, the only 12.3-kilometer farm access in Bugweri was also constructed, which has not only helped farmers move their rice from gardens to processing centers, but also enabled delivery of over social services such as education and health.
According to John Sizomu, a rice farmer who farms alongside the new farm access road of Butende-Ibulanku-Nsale-Buyebe-Idudi road, before the construction of the farm access road, to transport paddy rice from the garden was costly.
“I used to part with sh3000 per 120 kg bag of paddy rice to be taken across the swampy path to a dryer place. To date, I only part with sh1000 per bag which can now be transported using a motorcycle or tri cycle (tuku tuku).
Sizomu however appealed to the leadership of the district, to widen the road, for bigger tracks to use, especially when transporting more than 10 bags of rice.
For Namutosi Lydia, a coffee farmer from Rwamboko Parish in Mbale district, through the project, she was able to get fertilizers that she used to apply in her 7 plots of coffee.
“It’s very expensive to apply fertilizers in seven plots of coffee. Under this project, I would buy one bag of NPK at a lower cost compared to what was being sold on the market. Now that they have told us that the project has ended, I will go back to using cow dung. I have already talked to my father to help me collect but it will not go to all the plots,” Namutosi added.
Namutosi is another beneficiary of the Project under the Mt Elgon Coffee and Honey Cooperative, with a membership of 800 members that benefited from ACDP.
Apart from agro inputs, the cooperative was supported under the Matching grant component to acquire a coffee processing facility, storage facility among others, which have since become smaller and now require expansion.
For the people of Tisai Island in Kumi district, the new access road that will be completed and handed over in two months’ time will connect them to all services they have been missing.
Although the access road is meant to facilitate the transportation of agriculture products like livestock, residents will now have an opportunity of getting health services, education, and infrastructure, which wasn’t possible due to disconnection from the district administration due to lack of an access route.
68-year Okiror Musa, a resident of Tisai Island said from the time he was born, Tisai people have never enjoyed services that other people in Kumi enjoy.
“We don’t have a road, not even a ferry, we depend on canoes, the other way round is too far and costly, we don’t have piped on borehole water, we drink water from the swamp, I hope this road is completed before you people close the project,” Okiror said in a meeting with the visiting team at the construction site at the swamp between Ongino subcounty and Tisai Island.
The team, according to Dr Joseph Oryokot, a Senior Agriculture Specialist from the World bank, was on a final assessment mission of the project, to find out the benefits of the project, and how also check of beneficiaries have a sustainability plan in place.