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Museveni deploys Army to save Agriculture sector from collapse

18 September 2014, 16:39 Godfrey Olukya

Kampala - President Yoweri Museveni has commissioned some soldiers to help in promoting agriculture among civilians amid criticism by some members of the opposition.

Some soldiers have been hurriedly trained in promoting agriculture and soon they will be in the field.

''Why is he bringing soldiers in Agriculture sector yet there are many agriculture graduates in the country?'' wondered one of the opposition politicians, Alfred Otema.

''Although he claims that NAADS officials were corrupt, the soldiers will also become corrupt soon,'' he added.

According to Museveni, a lot of money was being sent to districts through National Agriculture and Advisory Services (NAADS) to promote agriculture but most of it was being swindled by public servants, forcing him to involve the army to curb the vice.

Read Also: Youths arrested for celebrating Museveni's 80th birthday

The President Wednesday evening addressed about 300 Army Officers at State House, Entebbe, who have been recruited to implement the NAADS Programme in all districts of Uganda with a view to helping wananchi in wealth creation.

A statement issued by State House said that President Museveni while addressing the soldiers disclosed that out of the 200 billion Uganda shillings that the Government has been releasing annually to benefit farmers under the National Agricultural and Advisory Services (NAADS) Programme, only UGX 95 billion  was going for the purchase of seedlings while the rest was being mismanaged by civil servants in various districts in the country.

“The purpose of involving the Army to take lead in the NAADS implementation is to save the farmers from the misappropriation of the NAADS funds. So my involving you is geared towards saving the people of Uganda,” Museveni said.

The Government launched NAADS programme in the year 2001 with the overall objective of supporting the transformation of agriculture in the country from subsistence to commercial farming.

Museveni told the meeting that according to researched information, only 40% of the NAADS funds were being used to implement the programme’s objectives while the remaining 60% is mismanaged by civil servants.

“Now the time of eating children’s money is over; it must stop,” he declared.

Regarding the recruitment of extension workers for NAADS by Public Service Commission, the President said that the line Ministry can go ahead and recruit if it has money but stressed that the Ministry should not whatsoever divert NAADS money to pay for their salaries.

Read Also: Museveni: HIV treatment is a second choice of life

“We don’t want this money to be diverted to pay salaries instead of buying seeds and other materials for farmers,” he emphasized.

The Army Officers, the President said, will among other things be given a constituency each in which to implement the NAADS programme with guidelines from District Agricultural Officers.

Museveni also directed the Ministry of Defense to write to all Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) in Uganda and their subordinates informing them about the activities of the Army Officers. He advised the Army Officers to take extra care and ensure that no fake agro-chemicals that may have been infiltrated onto the Ugandan market are purchased adding that in the event that this happened, both the buyer and the seller will be prosecuted.

Museveni's brother, General Salim Saleh who will be heading the Army Officers, asked the government to look for regional markets for Uganda farmers’ products especially in Kenya and South Sudan.

He also advocated for the establishment of agro-processing centres at district level throughout the country.

Generally, Uganda's army is highly disciplined compared to other members of the society and most farmers have welcomed Museveni's idea of using soldiers to promote agriculture.

''NAADS officials have been stealing our money. Most of the money was being used for holding workshops and paying allowances to NAADS workers. Now that the army is involved, I am sure things will work out,'' said 50-year-old farmer, James Kato.

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