BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: Monday, August 02, 2021
On Friday morning, Jennifer Ayikoru, a resident of Tiavu village in Manibe, walked over six kilometers to a garage in Arua City where her group under the umbrella ogranisation, the Arua Agro-farmers’ Association, usually hold their monthly savings and loan meetings.
This time, however, the group leaders had a different message for the 60 members who turned up for the meeting, hoes for everyone, received under the Operation Wealth Creation (OPC) in fulfillment of President Yoweri Museveni’s 2006 pledge to give hoes to farmers every year.
A delighted Ayikoru after receiving her hoe said: “This free offer from the government relieves me of spending sh13,000 to buy a hoe.”
For a farmer like her who owns just 3 acres of land to dig all year round, the only thing Ayikoru asks for is maize seeds and cassava cuttings for planting.
Through OPC, the government has distributed hoes in a phased manner to farmers within the West Nile districts.
Dickson Adomati, the deputy Resident city commissioner for Arua City who witnessed distribution, defended the programme saying the hoes are a strong foundation of farming at homes.
He warned the people against picking the hoes and selling them, advising that if they cannot use them for digging then they should use them to clean around their compounds.
John Michael Adabo, the councilor representing workers in the district council however noted that the distribution has been slower due to mismatch of numbers of hoes sent from Kampala.
For instance, Ayikoru is a resident of Ayivu Division in the Arua City but she had to wait for hoes to be diverted from Vurra County in Arua district in order to get one.
Rtd. Maj. Emmanuel Andrua, the OPC coordinator for Arua district, said the secretariat omitted farmers from Ayivu Division in their calculation when they dispatched few hoes that only served the central Division.
“We made consideration to target the farmers through special interest groups such as this one of Agro-farmers Association. The hoes will be enough for everybody because the government has sent more hoes than in previous years,” he explained.
Maj. Andrua said a total of 248,238 hoes were given for Arua district and he urged the people to utilize them properly so as to ensure food security and generate income for their families.
Hoe is the most important basic necessity for farmers, according to Ronald Nguma, the group’s chairman who also doubles as the chairman of Arua district workers council.
“These new hoes will improve our capacity to work in our fields,” he added.
Nguma who hails from Logiri sub-county and is a coffee farmer said they are looking forward to fulfillment of a coffee value addition factory at Kampala border market in Logiri so as to enable the West Nile farmers to earn more from their coffee.