By Eddie Ssejjoba
On his second day of touring Greater Masaka, President Yoweri Museveni excited farmers when he promised to study the request by farmers for the government to subsidise prices for fertilizers.
Some farmers complained that the fertiliser prices were too high and eating too much into their farm revenue. They also complained of too many fake farm inputs including counterfeit herbicides, which they say lead to big losses.
These were some of the issues raised by a few farmers who grabbed the chance to speak before the President during his main rally at Masaka Liberation Square Katwe in Masaka city, on May 24, 2023.
The president first visited the Masaka Industrial Hub and later went to the main rally. He was received by several government officials including Vice-President Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, former Vice-President Edward Ssekandi and former Prime Minister Kintu Musoke.
Museveni further excited the farmers when he accepted to tour an agricultural exhibition after the rally, where he took time to look at some of the value additions by farmers including coffee, oil palm and other products. He bought from them a number of items.
The jovial President also attracted cheers from the crowd when he sat down on a stool donated by Hajati Sarah Kiyimba of Hotel Brovad who was with her daughter, Resident District Commissioner Rakai Sarah Nabukalu Kiyimba. They donated to him a stool, a spear and a shield and after posing for photos with the two, he stood up with the spear and shield and demonstrated to the crowd how to use them.
John Kakande, a farmer from Kyanamukaaka, informed the President that he started growing coffee in 2017 and had started harvesting but he and other farmers were finding challenges of high fertiliser prices.
President defends fertiliser subsidies
The President said initially, he was against the idea of government subsidies, citing the example that during the COVID-19 lockdown, he got a lot of pressure to subsidise fuel prices that had gone high, but he rejected them. He said he did not want it because it would as well benefit motorists who use fuel for luxury including going out in night discos.
“But subsidies on fertilisers in a genuine concern because it leads to wealth creation, we shall study it and I will give you feedback,” he said.
The President said he was impressed bywhat he saw in greater Masaka, where he flew in a chopper and was driven by road and saw many promising gardens. He said this indicated that many people in Masaka had listened to his message of wealth creation.
He, however, said he still needed to focus on those who were still living outside the money economy. He stressed that the Parish Development Model programme, which is mainly targeting farmers, must allow them to pay back the loans within a period of not less than three years and two years for the Emyooga repayments.
He cautioned people in the cattle corridor against dividing wealth of their parents when they pass on, and instead advised them to keep it together and instead get shares.
The rally was organised and co-ordinated by microfinance state minister Haruna Kasolo and head of National Resistance Movement Office of the National Chairperson Hajati Hadija Namyalo.
There was brief drama when too many people wanted to come out and give their views and complaints and in the process of the security blocking them, one old man, identified as Hajji Nyindo from Mbiriizi fell and was unable to stand up again.
It took the intervention of works minister Gen. Katumba Wamala and other officials to help him and carry him to the microphone.
The President said those who did not get a chance to speak will send their views through the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and radio.