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Agro-input dealers push MAAIF to pay them Shs32b in arrears

  • Under their group, the Agro-dealers representative forum, the dealers said they were contracted and cleared by the government to supply inputs including maize, beans, cassava, rice, and coffee across benefiting districts in Uganda but payment has taken so long according to Mr Robert Akona, the group chairperson.

Traders that were accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Animal Industries (MAAIF) to supply agro-inputs under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project on Tuesday resumed their demand for their money which the government owes them totaling about Shs32 billion.

Under their group, the Agro-dealers representative forum, the dealers said they were contracted and cleared by the government to supply inputs including maize, beans, cassava, rice, and coffee across benefiting districts in Uganda but payment has taken so long according to Mr Robert Akona, the group chairperson.

Representatives of 110 companies had planned to hold a demonstration at the project offices in Entebbe but were blocked by security.

“This issue has been around for a long time and payment is overdue. We should have been paid in June 2021 because these supplies should have been instant since it is digitally done, but arrears have since then been accumulating and we have lost almost everything,” he said.

The dealers contend that they supplied inputs via the e-voucher system and have never been paid for over a year following the breakdown of the e-voucher system, which they say was misused by some individuals in the government.

Over 200,000 farmers who paid up their contributions worth Shs30bn haven’t been served with inputs due to system breakdown and MAAIF has failed to pay agro-dealers for these farmers to access the inputs.

“I supplied items to over 3000 farmers but I have not received a single coin for these supplies. MAAIF has been promising me, for now, a year but I’m seeing nothing much. When asked to intervene, the permanent secretary and minister did not give us any clear headway. We are bleeding, bank loans have accumulated, creditors who gave us inputs are threatening to drag us to court, and we are so frustrated. The president should look into his matter for justice,” said Mr Nicholas Abenaitwe, one of the dealers.

The aggrieved dealers claim that their calls to the responsible officials have gone unattended to even after the Speaker of Parliament directed the Minister to explain the matter on the floor of Parliament a few months ago.

The assistant coordinator of the ACDP program, Mr John Ludungokol said: “I have already set facts to them and there is no reason they should be talking when everything is already set. Their money has been processed and they are just waiting to be paid.”

The project which started in 2017, aims at raising on-farm productivity, production, and marketable volumes of selected agricultural commodities (maize, beans, rice, cassava, and coffee), in specified (12) geographic clusters (spanning over 57 districts).

By Racheal Fetaru

Ugandan Youth Empowerment Activist, Executive director of The Northern Press and Co-Founder of L'Oyet MediAtech Corporation.