The Kisoro OWC commander says people ought to realise that core objective of the program is to alleviate poverty among communities.
KISORO - The Kisoro district Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) program commander Lt. Col. Deo Kayita has said a section of locals in the district still have a negative attitude towards the program.
This has to some extent affected the program’s success, he said, adding that some people have been arrested for selling animals while others misuse inputs.
According to the commander, people ought to realise that core objective of the program is to alleviate poverty among communities.
"The livelihoods of the people that receive inputs have greatly improved. Those who received cows have manure as well as milk.”
Kayita told New Vision that in the months of September, October and November last year, people from different sub-counties in Kisoro received inputs such as tea seedlings (over 20 million), coffee seedlings (over 200,000), bags of Irish potatoes (400) and over 17,000 passion fruit seedlings from the Operation Wealth Creation program.
"Farmers should form cooperative societies so that they benefit from different Government programs such as women entrepreneurship funds and Youth Livelihood funds," he said.
It is understood that last year, the ministry of local lovernment under the Community Agriculture Infrastructure Improvement Program (CAIIP) procured two value-addition milking machines and with that, Kayita is hopeful this will lead to quality dairy products in the district.
"We are expecting the next distribution of inputs in March this year and a number of farmers have been applying for them.”
More people, less inputs
But there’s public outcry over the program.
Nyakinama sub-county LC3 chairman Charles Kamuhanda said locals' expectations were raised by the program coordinators who always urged them to apply without telling them about other uncertainties that arise during the course of beneficiary selection, procurement and distribution of inputs.
"They expect a lot during application, but to be disheartened by delivery of inputs that are far less than the number of people that applied," said the local leader.
"How do you distribute two cows or 20 bags of irish potatoes to the whole sub-county?”
Kamuhanda said the program should always procure small and easy-to-manage animals like goats, sheep and pigs, arguing that by doing so, more people will benefit from the program. He also said the OWC leaders should solve the issue of late delivery of inputs, as sometimes inputs are distributed when planting seasons have already elapsed.
"Instead of buying cows, that money should instead be used to buy goats. Some inputs are distributed in late months of the year yet in Kisoro in most cases, they [late months] are harvesting months.”
What they say
Christopher Karimunda, a farmer based in Kirundo sub-county is optimistic the OWC program will eradicate poverty in Uganda. He however feels that more leaders at local council levels should be involved during the distribution to enhance proper monitoring of the program. "If done well, it will eradicate poverty.”
John Tindikahwa, who is also a farmer, said some people perceive the program in political terms – that they think it's for the people who support the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
On his part, Kisoro district chief administrative officer (CAO) Wilson Tibugyenda said district leaders will soon embark on community sensitisation using the available media platforms in the district so that the citizens fully embrace the program.
"We shall also conduct community dialogues so that they get more knowledge about operation of the program.”
The district LC5 chairman Abel Bizimana said he has always asked the OWC commanders to refuse inputs that are delivered in the district during the offseason periods. He called on the concerned officials and bodies such as National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) to always procure and deliver the inputs in time.
"Our people have always suffered because of offseason supply of the inputs.”
In truth, many people have benefited from the OWC program since its introduction by President Yoweri Museveni in 2014. They have received inputs (seeds) such as Irish, coffee, tea, among others and animals such as sheep, goats and cows.
However a section of people still complain about the criteria the officials use to select beneficiaries.
On December 31, 2015 while Museveni was in Kisoro, locals expressed their dissatisfaction with the program. They argued that the rich people have benefited from it at the expense of the poor.
"Officials give inputs to the rich people leaving out the poor. There's corruption in the program," said angry residents of Nyarusiza sub-county.
However, Museveni told them that the only problem was about the few inputs that are always procured and delivered, adding that such issues would be sorted out.
"It's like having little food in the family – sometimes issues on how to distribute it to the children arise.”