By Albert Tumwine
The Head of Delivery Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, Prof. Ezra Suruma has said that the production of coffee, a leading export commodity is on a steady rise following President Yoweri Museveni’s 2014 directive to plant more coffee trees.
Prof. Suruma who gave an overview of the performance of government ministries and agencies said that the production of coffee has significantly increased although he noted that the 2020 target of producing 20 million bags of coffee in a year will not be achieved.
He however expressed gratitude that the production of coffee has increased steadily over the years, fetching $500million from over 4million bags of coffee in 2016 alone. He shared that the average number of bags produced annually had never gone beyond 3million bags.
“The graph is now pointing up, we have produced over 4million bags in the last year translating to $500million which is excellent,” said Prof. Suruma.
Prof. Suruma was speaking at the opening of the conference to review the performance of government focusing on ministries, departments, agencies and local governments over the past one year at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday.
He emphasized the importance of coffee as a major driver to sustainably lift Ugandans out of poverty, adding that government is in talks with China to avail the market as the production continues to rise. He also urged all government agencies to have coffee makers in their offices to boost local demand.
Prof. Suruma discussed the performance of priority areas including job creation and household income, quality education, health, and infrastructure development.
He noted that despite improved availability of health facilities and easy access to health centers (90% live within 5kms of a health facility), the quality of healthcare is deteriorating, something he said should be fixed.
He noted that supervision gaps are responsible for the glitches in the service delivery.
The service delivery unit boss also touched on the education sector, saying that whereas government has done its work by constructing schools and hiring teachers, there are still concerns about quality of education delivered to pupils.
Prof. Suruma for instance noted that some pupils who have received education for six years (P.6) can neither read nor write.
The 1st Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali who chaired the session tasked Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, the minister of education for higher learning account.
Mr Muyingo acknowledged to gaps and said government has drawn plans to equip teachers with more skills to ensure students receive quality education that will help them in the future.
Mr Muyingo will deliver a presentation on interventions by the ministry of education on the second day (Wednesday) of the retreat.
Speaking on the sidelines of the retreat Mr Muyingo said that parents too, need to take care of the welfare of their children if they are to concentrate while at school.
“Parents should cooperate with us and feed their children. Pupils should be given food to eat before going to school and they should pack for them food to eat from school,” said Mr Muyingo.
President Museveni and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda are expected at the closure of the retreat on Wednesday.