URN.Two maize milling machines were installed in the areas of Bufumbo and Nakaloke to contribute to poverty eradication and economic growth through improved commercialization of agriculture, increasing farmers’ access to markets, attracting competitive prices and improved incomes
The milling machines that were set up in Mbale district under the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme -CAIIP have remained idle for more than 10-years.
The CAIIP program resulted from a comprehensive review of the agricultural sector carried out in 2009 by the government in collaboration with the African Development Bank under the auspices of the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture. At the time, the government identified investment gaps in infrastructure, access to markets, agro-processing, environmental and natural resource management.
As a result, two maize milling machines were installed in the areas of Bufumbo and Nakaloke to contribute to poverty eradication and economic growth through improved commercialization of agriculture, increasing farmers’ access to markets, attracting competitive prices and improved incomes.
However, only the Nakaloke Maize milling machine is functional, although available information indicates that the machines operate under private ownership. Mbale district leaders say that the local government ministry implemented the projects without a clearly defined arrangement through which the district would work with the communities where the projects were implemented.
They add that the maize milling machine in Busano and the Rice milling machine in Bumasikye only worked for less than six months when they were established in 2010. Zaidi Wamaili, a resident of Busano sub-county said that the machine only worked for about three months after the project was handed over to the sub-county.
Milton Wanja, another resident said that they expected the project to ensure value addition but they have never realized its benefit to the community from the time it was installed in the area.
Mbale District Production Officer George Wanakina says the project was mishandled by the Ministry of Local Government, which ignored the district authorities at the implementation stage, yet they never had a mode of operation for the project when it was handed over to be managed by sub-county leaders.
“The best people to answer issues of CAIIP ask the Ministry of Local government, not the district or sub-counties. So CAIIP, in brief, is a white elephant manufactured in Kampala and implemented in the district,” he noted.
Mbale resident District Commissioner Asumin Nasike said the CAIIP project was supposed to enhance development in the areas where they were implemented through revenue generation, but this intention was never met. She explains that the machines were not under the control of either the district or the sub-counties but a local contractor who never disbursed revenue to the local governments.
The issue of the idle CAIIP projects came up during the monitoring visit of the State Minister of Economic Monitoring in the Office of President Peter Ogwang who discovered that the district had cleared electricity arrears for the milling machines yet they have been lying idle. Ogwang tasked the police to investigate the matter and establish how the district ended up paying for a service that they have not used for more than a decade.
Mbale District Chairperson Muhammad Mafabi said that that the Ministry brought the machines and gave them to some private individuals for management.