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Farmers Petition Gulu RCC Over Money Swindled Under Agriculture Cluster Dev’t Project

Geoffrey Komakech, a farmer in Gulu City told URN in an interview that they petitioned the RCC after all their efforts to recover their money from Gulu District Agriculture Department failed to yield results. He says that they also handed a copy of their petition to the Gulu District Chief Administrative Officer for intervention as well.
John Baptist Odama, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gulu showing hosting team from Ministry of Agriculture at his farm in Gulu City -Photo by Jesse Johnson James

Audio 1

A group of farmers under the Agriculture Cluster Development Project in Gulu have petitioned the Resident City Commissioner –RCC over the theft of their contribution to the project. The petitioners are part of over 200 farmers in Gulu District and Gulu City who paid Shillings 148,500 each for their E-Voucher accounts so as to receive seeds, fertilizer and tarpaulins. Despite making their contributions last year, the farmers have not received their farming implements. 

It is alleged that the person who collected their money swindled it instead of depositing it on their respective accounts. Un their July 26th, 2020 petition, the aggrieved farmers asked the RCC’s office to intervene and direct the officers handling the project in Gulu to either give them the farm inputs or refund their money. 

Geoffrey Komakech, a farmer in Gulu City told URN in an interview that they petitioned the RCC after all their efforts to recover their money from Gulu District Agriculture Department failed to yield results. He says that they also handed a copy of their petition to the Gulu District Chief Administrative Officer for intervention as well.

Michael Oneka, another petitioner, says that they are demanding over Shillings 100 million that was swindled under the project. He says that Shillings 31million was collected by the farmers through their respective Community-Based Facilitators while the remaining sum was collected by Simon Lamex Ocaka, a former staff of United Bank of Africa, who has reportedly been fired due to misconduct.

According to Oneka, although they have petitioned the CAO for help, he has little hopes in him since he knew about the saga a long time ago and did nothing. Francis Okello Odoki Rwotlonyo, the Deputy Gulu Resident City Commissioner acknowledged receipt of the petition saying that he will study the farmers complaint before contacting the relevant authorities.  


 

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Geoffrey Okaka, the Gulu Chief Administration Officer has not yet commented as he couldn’t pick calls from our reporter to his cellphone. Charlotte Kemigyisha, the Principle Public Relations Manager of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries says that the Ministry is aware about the farmer’s complaints and those they are still gathering more information before taking action.

The Agriculture Cluster Development Project –ACDP was rolled out in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and the World Bank. The International Development Assistance under the World Bank is financing the project.

The project became effective in January 2017. However, it started in Gulu District in 2019/2020 financial year. Under the project, the beneficiaries are expected to open an E-Voucher account in the United Bank of Africa –UBA and pay 148,500 shillings before receiving inputs like tarpaulin, seeds and fertilizer.