More than 7000 coffee seedlings have been left to waste away in Kyaanya village, Nakaseke district after they were rejected by residents, saying they prefer food crops and animals.
They are part of the thousands of coffee seedlings supplied by Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) through the Operation Wealth Creation programme in March for distribution to farmers in Kyaanya, Muwaluzi, Kyabugga and Butibulongo villages in Butalangu town council.
In Kyaanya village, more than 10,000 coffee seedlings were delivered to the home of the area LC I Chairperson, Silver Makamazibu. He was tasked to mobilise residents to pick them up.
However, only 3000 were picked up by residents leaving 7000 others to waste away. Our reporter visited the chairperson’s home on Monday and saw the seedlings valued at Shillings 2.7million withering while others are rotting away.
Silver Makamazibu, the Kyaanya village LC I Chairperson, says residents rejected the coffee seedlings, saying they applied for seeds of seasonal crops to address food shortages in their homes but they were surprised to receive coffee seedlings.
Gaster Wamala, another resident says they have run out of land for planting coffee and want seeds for food crops. He says they are overwhelmed with the seedling coffee supply.
Muhamood Ssentamu, another resident says the town is growing and it will be less productive to plant coffee, which will be destroyed to pay way for development. He cited the recent opening of roads in the town that saw several crops destroyed.
Ignatius Koomu, the Nakaseke District LC 5 Chairman, says they live in cattle corridor where majority of residents are interested in livestock as opposed to coffee. Koomu says they have over time asked Operation Wealth Creation to increase cattle supplied to the district instead of seedlings in vain.
Edward Lutankome Ssentamu, the Central Regional Manager Uganda Coffee Development Authority asked for time to investigate the matter and consult the district OWC Commander on what could have gone wrong.
He however insisted that they supplied the coffee seedlings based on the demand by OWC officials and residents. Tabaro Kiconco, the Spokesperson Operation Wealth Creation referred our reporter to the NAADS secretariat, saying they are responsible for procurement of the seedlings.
Government aims at increasing coffee exports to 20 million 60 kg bags annually from 4.2 million currently. However this might not be achieved with such wastage. In 2016, Nakaseke District council dismissed the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme in the district, saying it portrays the decaying service delivery system in government.
They vowed to mobilise residents to shun the programme.