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Multimillion Agro Processing Machines Lie Idle in Kitgum

Bosco Odong, a farmer in Orom trading center says they have never benefited as farmers from the installation of the machine since it has always been closed.
Agro processing machines in orom subcoounty lying idle. Photo by julius ocungi

Audio 2

Modern agro-processing machines worth millions of shillings installed in Loliya parish, Orom Sub County in Kitgum district are lying idle.

The rice huller and maize milling machines were installed in 2011 under the Community Agricultural Infrastructural Improvement Programme –project 2 (CAIIP-II) coordinated through the Local Government Ministry. 

The project funded by the African Development Bank is aimed at improving household income among farming communities in Central, Eastern and Northern Uganda. 

URN visited the facility over the weekend but was under lock and key. 

The Orom sub-county LCIII Chairperson Quirino Olum says that machines haven’t been operational for last five years.

He notes that a number of reasons that included seasonal availability of maize and rice, lack of grid extension and substantive individuals to manage the facility made it impossible to keep it functional.

Olum says they anticipate the facility to be fully operational before the end of the year until April next year.

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He, however, says the sub-county leadership recently hired out the machines to a local businessman at 200, 000 shillings monthly to operate the machines.

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Bosco Odong, a farmer in Orom trading centre says they have never benefited as farmers from the installation of the machine since it has always been closed.

He notes that even when their harvests like rice and, maize is ready, the sub-county officials have deliberately not opening it citing the heavy costs of running the machines on diesel fuel.

“I don’t understand why this machine was installed here if they can’t even operate it. We waste money trekking long distances to take our agricultural products to machines that are of poor quality,” he says.

The local government minister Jennifer Kacha Namuyangu who toured the facility last week expressed shock on the misuse of such a key facility in the development of agriculture in the district.

Namuyangu called on the district leadership to take up management of the facility to achieve its set objectives since it had already been handed to them. 

Kitgum Resident District commissioner William Komakech while inspecting the facility tasked the district leadership on proper management of the facility.

Similar projects rolled out in 65 sub-counties in the country since 2009 under CAIIP-II have been non-operational. In Kitgum district the project was also implemented in Labongo Akwang and Lagoro Sub counties. 

According to a review of the project 4th quarter report released by the Auditor-General in 2015, 22 agro-processing facilities were not operating despite their construction that had already been completed.