Over 30 million fruit seedlings dried up – Gen. Salim Saleh

Over 30 million fruit seedlings dried up – Gen. Salim Saleh
General Salim Saleh, the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC)

The Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation  (OWC) General Salim Saleh has revealed that over 30 million fruit seedlings that were distributed to farmers since 2014 have dried up.

He made the revelation during a meeting with district leaders in Rwenzori region that was held at Mountains of the Moon Hotel in Fort Portal on Friday.

General Saleh said that at the beginning of 2014, they distributed 29 million mango across the country but added that he was shocked when OWC coordinators in all the districts told him that the seedlings, including those that had started growing dried up.

Saleh disclosed that during his tour of OWC programs around Kabarole this month, he also found that all the 1.64 million citrus seedlings that the district received had dried up, causing loss of millions of money to the country.

But some district leaders noted that the problem could be as a result of seedlings being distributed to farmers who are not ready for them or those who do not want them.

Margaret Kihika, the Deputy LCV chairperson Kabarole district noted that farmers need to be given what they want to ensure inputs end up in the right hands. She said that if OWC is to achieve impact, the beneficiaries should be key stakeholders in deciding what should be distribute to them.

As a way forward, Saleh tasked leaders to come up with a resolution supporting the change from funding operation wealth creation program to financing it. He said that if farmers start buying the OWC inputs, they will stop the negligence that they have developed with the free ones.

The leaders agreed with him and promised to draft a resolution that they are in agreement with the new system.

Last year, a report by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries faulted the government over the approach of OWC providing free inputs to the farmers.

According to the report, giving free inputs to farmers is not sustainable and will in the long run breed a dependency syndrome. The committee also noted that some beneficiaries do not attach value to the inputs which are given freely.