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Silkworm Project Hangs In Balance Over Funding

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The Minister for Science Innovation and Technology Dr Monica Musenero is on the spot for halting the release of funds for the silk project in Uganda.

According to Dr Clet Wandui Masiga, the Executive Director Sericulture Project and Project Principal Investigator at the Tropical Institute of Development Innovation (TRIDI), the minister is still trying to ‘understand’ what exactly silk growing is.

The Commercialisation of Sericulture Technologies and Innovations Project for household wealth creation and employment generation in Uganda is being implemented by TRIDI in partnership with the Government of Uganda.

The journey to invest in Silk in Uganda was formally recognised in the textile policy that came into force in January 2010. The Textile policy emphasizes that Silk is another fibre produced in a few Districts of the country, mainly in the Western and Central Regions of the Country. If the silk Sub-sector is developed, there is potential to spur village-level processing, especially the cottage industry which would offer income opportunities for women and youth. 

The Minister’s decision to halt the disbursement of sh43b approved by Parliament for this silk innovation project is taking a huge toll on the creation of jobs, and the enhancement of increased revenue for the country.

Dr. Wandui said by Dr Musenero saying she is yet to understand the whole concept of the silk project is hurting the entire planned project that seeks to create over 300,000 jobs across the country.

“Parliament appropriated project sh43b to ensure commercial production of Silk. The Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development made available the funds but up to now, we have not received any funding. The delayed release of funds is causing economic waste of investment and denying Ugandans jobs both at Technical and non-technical levels. Our estimated losses shall be UG73B shillings should we not receive the funds promptly this Financial Year alone,” said Wandui

“Currently, we have over 2,000 acres of land with mulberry as a key ingredient for feeding silkworms. We are already employing 1300 people. But since the funds have been delayed we are losing over sh4b per month in losses,” he said as he addressed the media at the Namasumbi station in Mukono.

He noted that the Sericulture, Silk Industry, and Silk by-products Industry is contributing to the implementation of the NDP III programmes on Innovation, Technology Development, and Transfer Programme.

 “We are to implement this program in 50 districts though we are currently in 24 districts and operating over 34 stations with two state-of-the-art sill processing factories running in Sheema and Kween districts,” he said. 

Wandui said the 2,239 acreages of mulberry would yield sh4b in leaves, sh8b in cocoons, sh208b in the sale of silk and yarn, and

Wandui said the delayed release of funds has led to the death of seven of their staff. 

“We are now stuck, we had ordered other silk processing machines in China and already paid as required an advance of $1.6m, if we don’t clear the outstanding balance, we are set to lose that money as well,” he said.

He said that by the time the budget process was concluded for this financial year, TRIDI had planted mulberry on more than 1500 acres, and two factories that process the silk cocoons into yarn were under installation. 

“Since Parliament understood our direction of thinking and appropriated our funds, we abandon the idea of mobilising funds from investors, grants from development organisations, and loans. We still need stable funding to be able to meet our objective,” he said.

Wandui explained that sustainable funding is needed to avoid either interruption or loss of already invested resources. 

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