By Fred Turyakira & Chris Mugasha
SHEEMA - President Yoweri Museveni has directed Savings and Credit Co-operative (SACCO) managers to stop asking for collateral from people borrowing loans in SACCOs.
The President emphasized that government started SACCOs to help ordinary people who do not have security to get loans and develop themselves.
The directive followed a complaint by Sheema district Woman MP Rosemary Nyakikongoro that people were not benefiting from SACCO loans because of being asked for collateral security as a condition.
“When we started SACCOs they were meant to be security-free for the ordinary person to access the loan and develop themselves because collateral securities were failing people to get loans in commercial banks,” said Museveni.
“The security we want is character and trust – 'obwesigwa' in Kinyankole – while paying back the money,” he stressed, assuring that “we shall handle it and revise the system”.
The President was the chief guest at MP Nyakikongoro’s thanksgiving ceremony held at Kabwohe playground in Sheema on Saturday. The legislator marked the event for having survived a nasty motor accident she was involved in early last year and for the healing of the fractured limb she sustained.
While in the district, Museveni also unveiled the construction plan of Sheema Women’s resource centre initiated by Sheema Women’s Development Forum (SWODEF) where women will learn and exhibit their household income-generating development skills.
Danger of land fragmentation
SWODEF representatives, led by their chairperson Margaret Sanyu and the patron MP Nyakikongoro, gave Museveni a gift of a chair as a symbol of support for the president’s bid to retain his position at the helm of the country come the 2016 general elections.
SWODEF gave President Museveni a chair to symbolize their wish for another term in office. PHOTO/PHOTO/Fred Turyakira
In turn, the NRM leader supported them (SWODEF) with an offer of sh50m and also handed over an agriculture tractor to the district leadership which he had previously pledged.
“I have brought the agriculture tractor which I pledged because I saw the farms compacted and the land could not release water to enable them produce good pastures. Use it to clear the land and more nutritious pastures,” he said.
Museveni talked of the danger of land fragmentation, resulting from land inheritance, as affecting production and urged parents to change the attitude of giving their children physical land and instead adopt the distribution of shares from land produce.
He said: “The biggest challenge we had after the war was to implement the 1996 manifesto of increasing household incomes by utilizing the small piece of land a person owns to produce variety, quality and value addition.
“We want a farmer with four acres of land to utilize it well – plant Robusta coffee in one acre, another acre plant fruits that include mango, oranges and pineapples, have a banana plantation on another acre and elephant grass to feed animals.
“While in the backyard you need to keep poultry for laying eggs and vegetables. This will increase food security, income and create jobs,” advised the president.
Attack on NAADS
Museveni also advised people neighboring wetlands to protect them but also utilize them in production by setting up fish ponds and bee hives on the edges of the swamp without penetrating deep that would destroy them.
He attacked National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) officials for misusing the funds and for failing to deliver services, saying it has crippled the development program.
Sheema district chairperson Pastori Mugisha testing the tractor donated by President Museveni. PHOTO/Fred Turyakira
He mentioned that he would start using UPDF soldiers in the running of the program where NAADs officials have failed because they are more disciplined and that good results have manifested in areas such as Buhweju district where they (soldiers) were posted to run the program.
“We have given a lot of funds to NAADS but they have not transformed farmers. Every year, we allocate to them sh150 billion but they have been misused by going into workshops and fail to deliver on the ground. Soldiers will manage well the program because they are disciplined.”
Museveni pledged that his government will this year increase salaries of teachers and civil servants with funds worth sh450 billion and also pledged to pay veterans.
“The government has been busy in road infrastructure, the construction works for Mbarara-Kikagate in Isingiro road and Ishaka-Kagamba roads started. Therefore the government is on the right track for the development,” he said.
On her part, MP Nyakikongoro asked for the President’s support in the extension of power and safe water in the areas where they have not reached in the district.
The function was attended by ministers Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu (water and environment), Lt. Col Bright Rwamirama (state minister for animal industry) and Dr. Eliod Tumwesigye (stateminister for health and general duties).
Over 30 legislators assured the president of his NRM party sole candidature ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Archbishop Paul Bakyenga of Mbarara diocese and West Ankole bishop , Rt. Rev. Yonah Mwesigwa Katonene were among the clergy leaders at the function.