The government is yet to pay a balance of 10 Billion Shillings to tea nursery bed operators in 10 districts from Western Uganda.
718 tea nursery bed operators from the districts of Kabale, Rukungiri, Kanungu, Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukiga, Ntungamo, Mitoma, Mbarara, and Isingiro have been demanding the government 143 Billion Shillings.
In 2008, President Museveni launched tea growing in Kigezi and promised that government would buy all the tea seedlings and supply them to farmers.
In 2019, selected tea nursery bed operators met President Museveni in Rwakitura where he promised to resolve the matter of unpaid tea seedlings.
Through their lawyer, Patrick Kiconco Katabazi, the nursery bed operators petitioned the court over the matter. However, the government convinced farmers to settle the matter out of court which farmers consented to.
During the verification, anomalies were discovered forcing the government to reduce the money from shillings 143 billion to 37 billion citing scams by some of the farmers.
In June last year, the government paid 27 billion to the nursery bed operators. However, farmers say that up to date, the balance of 10 Billion Shillings is yet to be paid. Farmers say they are not aware of the reasons why the government has failed to clear the balance.
Frank Byaruhanga, the Chairperson of South Western Uganda Tea Nursery Bed Operators says that he has held several meetings with President Museveni and other top government officials from National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) and the Agriculture ministry about the unpaid balance.
Denis Nzeirwe Ndyomugyenyi, a concerned tea nursery bed operator from Kabale district says that when the government expressed interest in promoting tea growing in Kabale, he hurriedly joined tea nursery bed operation with hopes of reaping profits. Ndyomugyeni says that he obtained a loan to invest in the project, but he is disappointed by the delayed payment.
Nelson Nshangabasheija, the Kabale LCV Chairperson says that due to delays in payment other people are likely to lose morale in tea growing.
Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries says that they have already tasked the Chief Administrative Officers, Production, and Marketing officers to carry out fresh verification and compile a list of the nursery bed operators for payment.
According to Tumwebaze, he is hopeful that by the end of March, the farmers will be paid.
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