Teso Affairs: The failure of Soroti Fruit Factory Part II – (2-year-old orange concentrate stored without a plan)

“Soroti Fruits Limited was incorporated to add value to fruits that were abundantly underutilised; to address the high post-harvest losses, provide market for the farmers produce, and create employment opportunities along the value chain, thus increased and diversified household incomes within the greater Teso Sub-region” (February, 2022).

The Auditor General Report of December 2022 isn’t spelling out a better story either. The Soroti Fruits Limited is a proof of mismanagement, lack of survey and planning. It is picking the wrong fruit, the wrong type of production and even not considering the markets itself. Nothing has been checked for feasibility or value for money.

That’s why the December 2022 report says this:

“I inspected the inventory stores at the facility and established huge volumes of orange concentrate in the cold room stores. The factory did not have a recognizable packaging line for ready-to-drink juices in PET bottles leading to choking in the Cooling Rooms. The inability to transform Concentrate into marketable juice because of lack of a commercial packaging line for Ready to Drink Juice, has meant that the company keeps huge volumes of Concentrate which are kept in cold rooms, thus increasing costs of production and inadequate products in the market” (OAG, 2022).

He further explains:

“I noted that the factory still had, in store, concentrate and pulp that had been produced close to two years ago and indication of limited market for the juice produced” (OAG, 2022).

If you ever needed a proof of how little viable the production, the factory and the lines made in Soroti. These sorts of statements say it. You don’t need the financial understanding or the liquidity of the company to understand it. It’s expensive to keep such inventory and to use electricity to keep it well. Secondly, the orange concentrate won’t last forever either. Therefore, there are risks involved.

The Soroti Fruit Factory, which was built for the wrong fruit and now also lacks the ability to tap or utilize the concentrate. Because, it doesn’t have the production facilities to bottle or can the goods. That means the State or Government must spend even more on the failure of a project.

This story is a tale of losses, lack of proper consultation and using local knowledge to benefit the famers in Teso. Instead, it has become a money-pit and a loss-loss project. You can certainly wonder who has benefited from this and why it happened in the first place. Because the famers and the ones who was supposed to be the beneficiary ones aren’t. They are the losing end, and neither is the consumer getting viable products to consume. This isn’t value addition, but expenses upon expenses without any sort of revenue. Peace.

Ethiopia: Boorana Scholars Association (BoSA) – A Call for Life-Saving Humanitarian Assistance to the Drought-Stricken Pastoralists of Borana Zone (23.01.2023)

Philippines: House of Representatives, Stella Luz a. Quimbo – Resolution – Directing the House Commitees on Economic Affairs and Trade and Industry to Conduct an Inquiry, in aid of legislation, on alleged Anti-Competitive practices and Cartel in the Onion Industry and Sufficiency of the Interventions of the Philippine Competition Commission on the matter (09.01.2023)

Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana: L’Initiative Cacao Cote d’Ivoire-Ghana (ICCIG) appelle les entreprises a une action immediate tout en s’engageant a developper conjointment un mecanisme de prix durable (21.11.2022)

Ethiopia: Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS) – The World Food Day 2022’s ‘Leave No One Behind’ Rhetoric Failed the People of Tigray Suffering from Medieval Siege and a Man-Made Famine (16.10.2022)

Burundi: The rain-man of Mwaro…

In Mwaro, the people are called to pray to God for rain. Colonel Gasanze Gaspard, the Governor of Mwaro district, called on religious leaders to remember to pray to God for rain and asked farmers to irrigate their fields where possible” (Nyaburunga Post, 14.10.2022).

It is now news and the Governor released a statement yesterday telling the religious leaders should remember to pray for rain. That is a serious ask. The priests, clerical staff or anyone else isn’t supposed to be worried about peace, love or take care of the people of faith. No, they are now asked to and tasked to pray for rain.

The governor who is a military man and a part of an oppressive state. Has decided to beg the religious leaders to save the harvest and the farming season. The last resort is to beg the religious leaders to pray for rain.

That makes the governor a rain-man somehow. His so focused on the lack of rain, that he needs a higher power to solve. The military man knows that the guns or the arrests of dissenting voices will not help him. That’s why he asks the priests, pastors or other religious leaders to save the farmers of the district.

The Governor should also ask help from the Ministry of Agriculture and help with water-storage facilities, which the farmers can use in the future. There is a need to think pro-active and long term solutions. Because, living on hopes and prayers only take you so far. He could even try to get some guidance and wise words from the realms of the State House Ntare Rushatsi.

There should be help on the way. However, asking or prayers is showing how dire the situation and drought is. Secondly, also how few tools the Governor has or the state has to help their farmers in the district. Certainly, there is more to the story, but it’s not a good look. Peace.

Opinion: A man for his cows…

It is now revealed that the President Yoweri Tibuhurwa Kaguta Museveni appointed Dr. Nassan Tandekwiire to Senior Presidential Advisor on Indigenous Cattle on the 31st July 2022. Since then the individual has been banking 15 million shillings a month.

What is striking is that the Ministry of Agricultural, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has technically 4 ministers. With one Minister in Frank Tumwebaze and 3 other Minister of State, which one happens to be designated to Animal Industry, this being Bright Rwamirama. So, partly there is two high ranking officials on the matter, which would easily deem the need for Presidential Advisor on the matter.

No one can be shocked by this, because Museveni has been busy appointing cronies and associates for decades. His created so many positions, parastatals and whatnot to get people on the payroll. Therefore creating a new role or an office, which happens to be designated for indigenous cattle was bound to happen eventually.

Surely, Dr. Tandekwiire is the most well-versed individual on cattle. He must have a PHD. and have documents to prove his knowledge. Since you should be unique and brilliant about it. The good doctor should be able talk about it and enlighten the public at large on a NBS/NTV/UBC program in the near future. That man should explain the vast differences between the cattle in the Republic. And be more hard-hitting information that you can find on Wikipedia or any other platform like that. It should be levels of a scholar and not a random bloke from Entebbe.

I’m looking forward to Tumwebaze defending this, just like he defended Muhoozi lately. The President must be “pulling a leg” here. This cannot be serious. Isn’t there enough professionals and people who are technocrats knowing their field in the Ministry itself? Do they need a unique and special dude to be focused on one animal? Seriously?

The good doctor must have something about Ankole cattle. Why him and not Gen. David Sejusa? What is so special or significant by the Dr. Tandekwiire?

He must really be a living encyclopedia and have the knowledge we all never would ever know about the cattle. President Museveni has always been proud of his cows and his farm. This is just an extension of it. However, is it worth 15 million shillings a month?

I don’t know about that, because it’s hard to defend it. Especially, when the Republic already has so many ministers and possible technocrats in the Ministry itself to handle it. Therefore, the President really needs to explain himself. If not, I anticipate a funny explanation from Hon. Tumwebaze on the matter in the near future. Peace.

Opinion: The PDM is set to destroy the parastatals supplying Coffee and Tea Seedlings…

Rt. Hon. Speaker, as you may be aware, up until FY 202l /2022, Government policy has been for Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) to procure seedlings from certified Coffee and Tea Nursery Operators. However, Government has since decided to transfer funding previously appropriated for procurement of seedlings from UCDA and NAADS to the Parish Development Model (PDM) starting this FY2022/2023” (Statement to Parliament on the Supply of Coffee and Tea Seedlings, 22.09.2022).

The latest revelation of the Parish Development Model (PDM) will by this Financial Year takeover the powers to buy Coffee and Tea Seedlings, which has been done through the UCDA and NAADs. We know that similar activities was also in the past done through the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC). Though through those schemes wasn’t delivering the quality or the promised needs of seedlings at any given time.

When we have seen how the OWC and NAADs has failed in this. They are now putting this in the hands of the PDM and the Secretariat, which isn’t even prepared to do the basics of the PDM. The PDM is supposed through SACCOs and through the Local Government ensure Parish SACCOs get’s microfinance loans and funds, which is supposed to help development. However, the authorities, the local leadership and republic wasn’t prepared for it. As it was launched ahead of the polls, just like Emyooga, OWC and now the PDM. This is new minted schemes to be a “trick” to be the “silver bullet” to end poverty, but it ends up in nowhere.

Now in the middle of nowhere is the coffee and tea seedlings. Which are now transferred to an entity that cannot even do it’s core. Money is wasted, money isn’t received and we are certainly hearing about “missing funds” soon.

So, an organization that has been rushed, lacked funding and procedures is taking over something so vital for the supply of seedlings for the cash-crops of coffee and tea. That’s significant and shouldn’t be showed under the rug. This is a move to stop accountability and control of it. As we know the Republic is already under scrutiny with the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCCL).

It’s just iffy that this happens now. That seems fishy to me and it seems coordinated too. This is clearly taking away power and making the UCDA meaningless. Only a place to put some loyal cadres and giving them a pay-check, but having little power or oversight since the PDM and UVCCL will have monopoly. The farmers just have to produce and the Republic will take care of the rest. This is from seedling to the refined product.

They are even taking away the little powers and ability the UCDA has and doing this is shady. That’s why they are giving it to the PDM, which they know have to much on its hands. This isn’t strengthening the agricultural development, but making another scheme within the scheme. To fit another scheme they have already made. The PDM is now becoming a part of the UVCCL. That’s really interesting move and just shows what the National Resistance Movement (NRM) does at this point.

No one should be shocked, but they should be worried about this move. This isn’t done to make the cash-crop more profitable or better. We know how the OWC failed with the procurement and logistics of seedlings. Do you really think the PDM will be any better? Who are they trying to fool here? Who is the ones who are losing and are the party they are crushing?

Because, there are parties, companies and co-ops that are hurt by this. Since the PDM is taking over and there should be outrage over this. Like the NRM and the Government didn’t learn from the failure of OWC. That’s what is striking… and just shows that it doesn’t care. While it could be a scheme to fit the UVCCL and that makes it even more disgusting. Peace.

Somalia: Famine looms in Somalia, but many ‘hunger hotspots’ are in deep trouble (21.09.2022)

The number of people facing life-threatening levels of hunger worldwide without immediate humanitarian aid, is expected to rise steeply in coming weeks, the UN said on Wednesday, in a new alert about looming famine in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 21, 2022 – In Somalia, “hundreds of thousands are already facing starvation today with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under five,” warned the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).“Large-scale deaths from hunger” are increasingly likely in the east African nation, the UN agencies continued, noting that unless “adequate” help arrives, analysts expect that by December, “as many as four children or two adults per 10,000 people, will die every day”.

Complex roots

In addition to the emergency already unfolding in Somalia, the UN agencies flagged 18 more deeply concerning “hunger hotspots”, whose problems have been created by conflict, drought, economic uncertainty, the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Humanitarians are particularly worried for Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, where a record 970,000 people “are expected to face catastrophic hunger and are starving or projected to starve or at risk of deterioration to catastrophic conditions, if no action is taken”, the UN agencies said.

This is 10 times more than six years ago, when only two countries had populations as badly food insecure, FAO and WFP noted, in a new report.

Urgent humanitarian action is needed and at scale in all of these at-risk countries “to save lives and livelihoods” and prevent famine, the UN agencies insisted.

Harsh winter harvest

According to FAO and WFP, acute food insecurity around the world will worsen from October to January.

In addition to Somalia, they highlighted that the problem was also dire in the wider Horn of Africa, where the longest drought in over 40 years is forecast to continue, pushing people “to the brink of starvation”.

Successive failed rains have destroyed people’s crops and killed their livestock “on which their survival depends”, said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, who warned that “people in the poorest countries” were most at risk from acute food security that was “rising fast and spreading across the world”.

FAO’s QU calls for massive aid scale-up

Vulnerable communities “have yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are suffering from the ripple effects of ongoing conflicts, in terms of prices, food and fertilizer supplies, as well as the climate emergency,” the FAO chief continued.

He insisted that “without a massively scaled-up humanitarian response” to sustain agriculture, “the situation will likely worsen in many countries in the coming months”.

Echoing that message, WFP Executive Director David Beasley appealed for immediate action to prevent people dying.

We urgently need to get help to those in grave danger of starvation in Somalia and the world’s other hunger hotspots,” he said.

Perfect storm of problems

This is the third time in 10 years that Somalia has been threatened with a devastating famine,” Mr. Beasley continued.

The famine in 2011 was caused by two consecutive failed rainy seasons as well as conflict. Today we’re staring at a perfect storm: a likely fifth consecutive failed rainy season that will see drought lasting well into 2023.”

In addition to soaring food prices, those most at risk from acute food insecurity also have “severely limited opportunities” to earn a living because of the pandemic, the WFP chief explained, as relief teams brace for famine in the Somali districts of Baidoa and Burhakaba in Bay region, come October.

Below the “highest alert” countries – identified as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen – the joint FAO-WFP report notes that the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, the Sahel, the Sudan and Syria are “of very high concern”, in addition to newcomers the Central African Republic and Pakistan.

Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi have also been added to the list of hunger hotspot countries, joining Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Barriers to aid

Humanitarian assistance is crucial to save lives and prevent starvation, death and the total collapse of livelihoods, FAO and WFP insist, while highlighting chronic access problems caused by “insecurity, administrative and bureaucratic impediments, movement restrictions and physical barriers” in 11 of the 19 hotspot countries.

This includes “all six of the countries where populations are facing or are projected to face starvation…or are at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions”, they said.

Opinion: Minister Tumwebaze over-the-top tractor scheme…

There are about 10,694 parishes in the Republic. At this current time there are 4,000 tractors in both private and public ownership. Some of these are said not to be operational. However we don’t have an exact amount of working tractors or farming equipment that is working.

The golden boy of the regime and unopposed MP, Minister Frank Tumwebaze has a statement on the performance of the Tractor Scheme. We have seen the performance of Tumwebaze in the past. As the man tried to get everyone to register their SIM-Cards and unleash the 200 shillings tax OTT services on their smart-phone devices. So, we know the man is working and been a loyal subject of the National Resistance Movement.

Now that his the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries has released a statement on the 18th August 2022 about the Tractor Scheme. So, the newest idea of the NRM is to buy more tractor and get one in every parish. That’s to beat army-worms and combat food insecurity. The idea itself isn’t foolish or dumb in any sense. However, how will this government ever make this happen? Who will fund it and where will find the organizational skills to make it happen?

Because, the NRM regime has all the programs of the books. They have schemes and ideas out of this world. Nevertheless, over the years we have seen them turn into get-rich-schemes of the chosen elite and little-to-none service delivery. Should we think any different of this one? No, it is a continuation of others.

That’s why the statement of Tumwebaze mentions the SACCOs. NAADs, OWC and the newly minted Parish Development Model (PDM). The PDM that haven’t become functional or working of yet.

In addition, the Minister acknowledges that the Cabinet approved the operationalization of 19 Zonal Agricultural Mechanization/Irrigation Centres. However, by the time of the statement only 3 of these was operational and 2 are in the works. So, there is a long time before all the larger regions has this even. These are supposed to be up and be place of workshops, repair and get maintenance skills. Which is all a fine idea too, but shows how slow this process is.

In the medium term, the Tractor Scheme needs not only to make 16 Zonal Agricultural Mechanization/Irrigation Centres operational. They need to find funds and get tenders to buy at least over 6,000 tractors, which needs to be donated or designated to each parish.

What is also making this more expensive the need for monitoring device and software to be able to follow up on the usage of the tractors donated to the parishes. This is surely meant as a supplement and to advance the agricultural sector.

However, I wonder if Tumwebaze ever studied the Soviets, because this sort of out of their play-book: “Conceived as a voluntary union of peasants, the kolkhoz became the dominant form of agricultural enterprise as the result of a state program of expropriation of private holdings embarked on in 1929. Operational control was maintained by state authorities through the appointment of kolkhoz chairmen (nominally elected) and (until 1958) through political units in the machine-tractor stations (MTSs), which provided heavy equipment to kolkhozy in return for payments in kind of agricultural produce” (Britannica – kolkhoz).

That didn’t add more produce or make the production of the agricultural produce in the Soviet Union. These sorts of entities crippled the Kolkozy and the leaders tricked their numbers. So, this actually caused famine and more hardships.

We can wonder, if Tumwebaze ever looked into that or even cared to see how it worked. It is sort of ushering in the mechanical agricultural revolution by the parish model. In such a manner, that can be seen as similar to the ones of the Soviet.

There are so many questions to this… not only the funding and the supposed operation of it. After that… how is the oversight? What are the goals? Are it to buy over 6,000 tractors and that’s it? What happens after that?

If there is no plan or sort of objective after that. What does it really do? Except making the MAAIF busy and have something to say in Parliament. Peace.

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