By Abalo Irene Otto
Government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo has castigated local government leaders for failing Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), a government programme meant to eradicate poverty in Uganda.
While addressing a stake holders meeting at Kakanyero Hotel in Gulu Town recently, Ofwono said Ugandans should blame their elected leaders for failing to set a policy frame work that guides the process of distributing seeds, seedlings and animals to selected beneficiaries at lower administrative levels.
“Operation Wealth Creation is run by the district local government. These soldiers distributing are simply conveyor belts. If there is a problem of late delivery or poor quality of inputs, the problem then is in Gulu Local Government led by the Chairman and the Chief Administrative Officer,” said Ofwono.
He added that the policy framework under which Operation Wealth Creation Programme is tailored is clear though corruption has infiltrated the system.
“At parish level, the people who are supposed to select farmers are the ones to inform the people at the district, what are the particular items that a particular farmer wants. But because of the corruption in the system in this country, once these people have signed a contract, they will deliver the seeds or cassava cutting even when it is dry season because they are corrupt,” he added.
Early this week, Gulu district local government rejected about 200 bags of cassava cuttings delivered to the district for planting.
Gulu District Chairman, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi declined to receive them saying they were of poor quality and delivered late.
“This is October and we are approaching the dry season. Our farmers can no longer plant these cassavas besides the quality is really poor,” said Mapenduzi.
Ambassador David Mwaka, a retired diplomat and farmer at Bwobo Manam village, Alokolum Parish, Ongako Sub County in Omoro district said he is disappointed in the tree seedlings being supplied through Operation Wealth Creation.
“I personally took great interest in planting fruit trees, citrus, tangerine, avocado, mangoes, and all kinds of fruit trees on my farm at Bwobo Manam. But I can tell you without any contradiction whatsoever that I am very disappointed by the kind of citrus and tangerine seedlings being distributed. I planted many acres. But I can report to you that quite a number of those fruit trees that were once admired by people who visited my farm are beginning to dry up,” Mwaka explained.
Ambassador Mwaka added that he wasted a lot of resources in caring for fruit trees that were delivered late to his home three years ago.
“I employed people in my farm and became scavengers on the streets of Gulu Town at that time looking for mineral water bottles to do drip irrigation. Most of the trees could not stand the weather. Three years on, they are beginning to dry up and I ask myself why?”
He encouraged people to plant more of the traditional fruit trees if they are to reap for a longer period of time.
Operation Wealth Creation was launched in July 2013 by the Uganda government to replace the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) as an intervention intended to create a system that facilitates effective National Socio-economic transformation with a focus of raising household incomes for poverty eradication and sustainable wealth creation.