Through the World Bank-supported Global Programme for Social Accountability (GPSA) under the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) in collaboration with the Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC) undertook a process of monitoring the agriculture procurement process in selected districts of Ntungamo, Nebbi, Mubende and, Nakaseke to ascertain the efficiency of agricultural contracts’ execution and thereafter provide recommendations to the key stakeholders and duty bearers.
This was aimed at increasing government disclosure of contracting information in the targeted districts, improving public participation in contracting processes and collaborative engagement between government and civil society, improving informed decision–making by the central and district local governments regarding monitored contracts and services, strengthening the capacity of citizens and civil society to collectively and effectively demand for accountability and value for money in public contracting, and supporting the development of governance documents and monitoring tools for institutional strengthening of Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition.
Despite the government increased resource allocation to the sector of UGX. 893 Billion in FY 2018/19 from UGX. 828 Billion in FY 2017/19, the sectoral performance is still weak with 43% of Ugandans still engaged in subsistence agriculture and the national agricultural output is at 2% compared to other counterparts in the East African Region whose output growth ranges from 3% to 5% according to the World Bank World Development Indicators.
In Byongyera sub-county, community members reported that they received passion fruits seedlings from OWC transported from Central region which they tried to plant but were unable to survive because they had been transported for long a distance and were too stressed to survive hence making a loss. The sector is still faced with a myriad of challenges from low financing still below the 10% of the National Budget as per the Maputo Protocol to poor coordination of implementation of its engagements.
‘’I was introduced to tea-growing by Government promising that it is a cash cow that would guarantee good income in my old age and for my grandchildren. I dedicated 14 acres of my land for tea growing. However, upon harvesting, I found greater challenges in harvesting and marketing. The crop requires intensive labour to harvest yet at my age I have neither free labour at home nor money to hire workers. Worse still we have no market for tea in my district. The only options for selling this tea are in Kanungu and Kabale districts where processing factories are established. The problem is there is no incentive for these factories to buy from me as I only have 14 acres and other farmers are scattered in distant places. I am considering selling the garden so that someone else can deal with the problem of marketing but I can’t even attract suitable buyers due to market challenges.’’ Narrated Mzee Mucwampare, Ngoma, Nyakyera S/County, Ntungamo District.
AFIC recommended that NAADS should ensure streamline procurement processes where there is supervision and effective contract management where contracts deliver as per their contractual obligations, implement recommendations of OWC officers requiring contractors to supply high-quality inputs and payments only be made after OWC officers and beneficiaries have confirmed that supplies were of good quality.
There is great need for the Ministry to increase its sensitization of the communities about the ongoing projects. Contract / Project managers should ensure that the contractors conduct community sensitization and awareness sessions about the projects clearly stipulating the roles of the community to the project, the potential benefits and all expectations as per the contract signed. Where community grievance redress or other committees have been set up, AFIC recommends that they are sensitized on their role, reporting and feedback mechanisms and given necessary information required to facilitate their role.