Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Kasese cries out to the president over cotton prices

Mr President,

I wish to refer you to the National Development Plan of the Republic
of Uganda which you approved and made public, the National Resistance
Movement (NRM) campaign manifesto 2010, and other government flagship
programmes which the government has endorsed as national strategies to
creating wealth and employment for the youth.

Mr President, following the flagship programmes on wealth creation of
the government, I personally mobilised the youths in my village and
sub-county to embrace the government programme and picked farming. I
offered land in Bukangara, Nyakiyumbu Sub-county, Kasese District.

To begin with, the youth planted groundnuts in March. The proceeds
from groundnuts were invested in cotton farming for which we thought
we would get a better deal following your advice to the youth to
become self-employed and to engage in gainful work.

Mr President, we planted 10 acres of cotton where we invested as
follows: hiring land- Shs250,000x 10 = 2,500,000, hiring tractor-
Shs80,000x 10= Shs800,000, five bags of cotton seeds- Shs 3,000x5=
15,000, pesticides- Shs200,000, food and water- Shs500,000, labour
during weeding-Shs2.4 million. Other general costs like airtime for
linking with the tractor managers, transport, supervision- Shs500,000
totalling to Shs6,915,000.

This is recorded expenditure for a single group, but there are many
more farmers in the cotton sector; if this is multiplied by the total
number of cotton acreage, the farmers have indeed invested a lot and
paid taxes while procuring inputs like pesticides and cotton seeds
thus contributing to the national treasury even before harvesting our
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Mr President, this is a single case. Kasese District is a cotton belt
but the farmers are concerned about the cotton prices that were
announced in the media. At the beginning of November, the Cotton
Development Organisation announced a price of Shs1,600 as farm-gate
price in the media (Kasese Guide Radio) but while the Minister of
Agriculture was appearing before a committee of Parliament on
Wednesday, December 14, the minister’s response to the questions by
the committee were unsatisfactory and I was prompted to seek the
audience of the President through the media to expeditiously address
the plight of cotton farmers who, by now, have no clear information
about farm-gate price for cotton.

The news that cotton farmers in Soroti have cut down cotton was
shocking; what will the farmers pay back to the Saccos?
Mr President, while I support liberalisation of the economy-- you
might recall how you have changed the milk industry-- the cotton
farmers have not had a chance of engaging with you on how we can
change the sector but only rely on the private sector which has
decided to cheat us yet we have invested a lot of money in the

I therefore request you, Mr President, that as a voice of the people
of Uganda who entrusted you with power through our vote, and as a
farmer, use your constitutional powers to prevent the cotton farmers
from being cheated. Also, we appeal to the government to set a minimal
price of cotton atShs2,500 per Kg. If the cotton sector is ignored by
you, our economy is likely to lose a lot based on what we earned from
the cotton in the last financial year.
For God and My Country.

Mr Baluku Odyek is a cotton farmer in Bukangara, Nyakiyumbu
Sub-county- Kasese District.

Jimmy B