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Chinese Investor Abandons $4m Farm in Nakaseke :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Chinese Investor Abandons $4m Farm in Nakaseke

The farm which used to be a hub of activity is now idle. The land is abandoned and covered in shrubs. Uganda Radio Network has learnt that the managers suspended operations in 2015 after allegedly making losses. All Chinese nationals operating on the farm were flown back to China.
File Photo; Hanhe Farm located in Kasangombe sub county in Nakaseke. The farm has been not operating for a year and Chinese Investor returned to his homeland.
A Chinese Investor has abandoned a farm in Nakaseke district over alleged financial constraints.

Hanhe (Uganda) Farm, a subsidiary of Hanhe International Company, was the first private Chinese land-based agriculture enterprise in Uganda. It started its operations in 2011, after securing a lease on 400 acres of land in Kasangombe Sub County.

The company, owned by Qui Lijun, a former Chinese Member of parliament, committed to inject 4 million US Dollars to grow vegetables for export. It was involved in mushroom production, growing of cabbage and other vegetables in a wetland that is a tributary to River Lugogo.

It also had ten fishponds with about 20,000 fish fingerlings and a 30-ton capacity maize milling plant on the farm. By April 2014, the farm was employing 21 permanent staffs, among them 5 Chinese and 16 Ugandans. It also had over 100 casual workers on the site.

Its target was to produce 30 tons of mushrooms per day for supply in local restaurants, and for export to markets as far as London, United Kingdom and in China.

But the farm which used to be a hub of activity is now idle. The land is abandoned and covered in shrubs. Uganda Radio Network has learnt that the managers suspended operations in 2015 after allegedly making losses.  All Chinese nationals operating on the farm were flown back to China.

A security officer at the farm who preferred anonymity told URN that the Investors promised to return in March, 2016 but have never returned to-date.

Godfrey Mboowa, the Hanhe farm advisor explains that the farm experienced flooding which washed away crops forcing them to take a break. He added that the managers are in the process of reviewing the project and securing a loan to resume operations if found viable.

Mboowa is optimistic that the farm will resume operations and save the Ugandan population that has since been rendered jobless since its closure.

Muhamadi Bagonza, a partner with Hanhe Farm admits that the company experienced financial constraints and they were pursuing for funds before return.

URN reporter couldn't reach Qui Lijun, the proprietor of the farm for a comment on the matter. Similarly, efforts to talk to Ignatius Koomu, Nakaseke LC V chairman on whether the farm managers left an official notice of leave to the district were fruitless.

Prior to the closure, the investor clashed with local farmers in Luweero town in the weekly market where they took cabbages for sale.

Area leaders and residents also protested the location of the farm citing potential environmental degradation arising from the farm's activities, such as excavation and digging of drainage trenches. Residents said that the activities would have adverse effects on the livelihoods of the immediate community and the pastoralist communities further downstream.

Before the farm was established, the land was accessible to the community for harvesting of reeds for making mats and roofing houses, grazing, fishing and harvesting clay soil for brick making but has since been closed off.

According to a research paper by China-Africa Research Initiative based at Johns Hopkins University, Hanhe's parent firm, Hebei Agricultural Science and Technology Co. Ltd has been accused of defrauding Chinese investors who thought they were buying land in Uganda.

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