Officials from Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) and Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) held a meeting with all nursery bed operators from the western region.
The meeting which was held at the Kabarole district headquarters Kitumba was also attended by RDCs, LCV Chairmen, Chief Administrative Officers, District Production Officers, RISO and DISOs from the districts of Mityana Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kyenjojo, Kyegegwa, Mubende and Ntoroko.
Col Stephen Kashure, the director of operations OWC, who represented Chief Coordinator, Gen Caleb Akandwanaho (Rtd) said that the objective of the meeting was to pick views from nursery operators as partners of the wealth creation program.
“We are partnering with the nursery bed operators and we want them to give us their views about coffee production,” he said adding that nursery operators are key business players in national building.
According to Col Kashure, the meeting followed a survey by joint teams of OWC and UCDA officials launched on 11th August 2016 on the survivability of coffee that was distributed in the last two seasons.
“Our staff have been in the field physically counting the coffee seedlings that have survived. Preliminary results indicate that only 40% of the coffee survived. The mortality rate stands at 60%,” he said.
A survey by OWC also established that some nursery operators supplied air while others dumped the seedlings and they ended up drying.
Some of the nursery operators on the other hand attributed the high mortality rate of coffee seedlings to poor preparedness of farmers for the planting season and delayed payment for the deliveries.
“Up to now some of the nursery operators who supplied seedlings in September last year have not been paid. This affects their work output because seed germination is a business that requires money to keep it running,” Florence Kintu, a nursery bed operator from Bundibugyo district, said during the meeting.
Agasa who appealed to the UCDA to raise the price of every seedling from UgShs 300-500 also faulted the government agency for failing to offer good planting seeds to the nursery operators.
“If government is to fight poverty through agriculture it must give the right and high yielding seed varieties to the nursery operators which has not been the case,” Agasa argued.
Agasa disclosed that some nursery operators have fallen prey to seed suppliers who dupe them with fake seeds that eventually fail to germinate.
Francis Chesang, the director development services UCDA, said that his office has entered into a memorandum of understanding with all districts to recruit extension agents at every parish.
“UCDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with districts to recruit parish extension agents whose work will be to mobilize coffee farmers, register them and ensure that they are ready to receive seedlings,” Chesang said during the meeting.
He added that the extension workers will also ensure that there is good management of the coffee seedlings after planting.
Chesang stated that the delay in paying the nursery operators is because some of districts do not submit forms of the delivered seedlings on time.
“My office has up to now not yet received supply delivery files for the September-November season. And for the March-May season only 50% of the files have reached my desk,” Chesang said.
He also clarified that the payment for the last season delivery has been delayed because of the seedlings audit exercise that has been going on following reports that some nursery operators supplied air.
Chesang appealed to nursery operators not to work in isolation but to partner with district officials to mobilize farmers to prepare for the planting season.
Uganda has a target of exporting 20m coffee bags annually by 2020.