Cows donated by President Museveni to youth leaders in Buganda as part of his poverty alleviation campaign have quietly ended up on the open market.
The heifers, The Observer has learnt, were sold by the beneficiaries within two weeks after they were delivered on August 19. This happened notwithstanding the three-day residential training given to youth leaders at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo (MUARIK) and at Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute Ntaawo just before the animals were delivered.
Shs 126bn is to be spent on the project that has so far seen about 438 in-calf heifers given to 16 youth leaders in each of the 23 Buganda districts and the five divisions of Kampala, according to Information and National Guidance Minister Rosemary Namayanja Nsereko.
In Masaka, the cows were reportedly sold off within a week, contrary to official guidelines.
“It is not only in Masaka we have receive reports that beneficiaries in other areas have also sold off the cows but we are yet to verify that information before we can take action,” Ibrahim Kitatta, the treasurer, National Youth Council (NYC), told The Observer on Monday.
The Masaka animals were allegedly sold to one Richard Kimera, chairman of the Masaka district youth council. Ironically, it was Kimera who recommended the beneficiaries to the Naads programme. To receive the heifers, one has got to demonstrate capacity to manage the animals.
Kimera declined to comment when approached on Monday, but the NRM District Registrar Florence Nanyanzi said Kimera is just keeping the cows for the beneficiaries because majority of them don’t have capacity to look after a Friesian cow.
“It is only two youths who were prepared and those took the cows while the rest opted to keep them at Kimera’s farm,” Nanyanzi said.
Masaka Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Linos Ngompek said on Monday that 80 per cent of their investigation found that the cows were indeed sold to Kimera at about Shs 1.2m each. The market price for each heifer is Shs 2m.
“The president gave them those cows to improve their livelihoods all of them were in-calf and the idea was that after they have given birth, they keep the cow for two years and pass it on to another beneficiary,” Ngompek said.
He added that youths who sold off the animals would be investigated and possibly prosecuted.
The Observer has been told that after selling off the cows, some youths bought iron sheets to roof their houses.
“It is not at the youths’ discretion to sell the cows… the argument is, once you have received it [cow], it produces, you give it to another young person,” Namayanja said.
The project was conceived at the height of a power struggle between Museveni and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, triggered by the latter’s perceived presidential ambition. To win back the Mbabazi-leaning NRM youth league leaders, Museveni held a series of meetings with the youths during which this idea was born.
“When we met the president a few months ago, we agreed that we work with Naads to identify youth farmer leaders who would be agents of change,” Kitatta said.
Museveni delivered a nine-page write-up of tips to the youths on how they could climb out of poverty. Besides the cows, each of the beneficiaries is to receive at least 460 coffee seedlings, fodder seeds enough to cover an acre of land, plus drugs for the cows.
Source : The Observer