Coffee seedlings: Deputy Speaker issues ultimatum to Govt

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa has demanded that government allows nursery bed operators to supply coffee and tea seedlings to farmers before the rainy season ends.

He was responding to the statement by the finance minister, Hon. Matia Kasaija, on supply of seedlings to farmers during plenary sitting on Thursday, 22 September 2022.

Kasaija said that the Executive is still working out modalities to monitor the supply, to ensure that the right beneficiaries receive seedlings.

AUDIO: Minister Matia Kasaija

“We agreed that these seedlings should be supplied to farmers on credit. But this is on condition that we ensure that what one says that they have supplied is what they have supplied. We do not want to lose the seedlings and the farmers miss out.

He said that he will update the House on government’s decision on the verification and monitoring modalities next week.

But Tayebwa said that the issue of verification does not suffice, arguing that government will have ample time to verify beneficiaries and suppliers since the seedlings will be supplied on credit.

AUDIO: Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa

“Rains are not waiting; while you are consulting, the rains are not consulting. We are asking, if can you expedite the process and we shall support you. We appropriated funds for the seedlings and now we have reached a conclusion that the seedlings should be supplied,” said Tayebwa.

He blamed the delay in supply of seedlings on government’s failure to trust the responsible agencies, including the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs).

“The problem which I have seen is that you doubt your agencies. Deal with them because you cannot create new structures now. Help us and set us free so that we can start planting,” Tayebwa said.

He tasked the minister to provide a conclusive timeframe on 28 September 2022, on when government will allow supply of seedlings to start.

The Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Janet Okori-moe, said that NAADs already performed an assessment on the expected beneficiaries and what is left is for government to authorize nursery bed operators to supply seedlings.

She said that the agriculture ministry provided the finance ministry with details of the demand for coffee seedlings countrywide, upon request by the latter.

“The Ministry of Agriculture responded that the demand for Arabica coffee seedlings countrywide is 24 million and Coffee Wilt Disease disease-resistant is 13 million seedlings. That is what you will need to get from licensed coffee operators,” said Okori-moe.

Kasilo County MP, Hon. Elijah Okupa, urged the minister to issue letters of comfort to UCDA and NAADs to enable nursery bed operators start supply of seedlings to farmers.

“We have seen situations where the minister has released funds without signed contracts. What is difficult with the minister issuing a letter of comfort? This ping pong should not be arising,” said Okupa.

Hon. Agnes Apea (NRM, Amolatar district) wondered why government is still consulting, and yet Parliament appropriated Shs30 billion for supply of seedlings to farmers.

“You cannot tell us that you are consulting about how to supply and whom to supply. I am a Vice-Chairperson of the Committee of Agriculture and we have consulted UCDA and they have certified seedling suppliers,” said Apea.