Sunday, June 9, 2024

The Uganda Media Centre recently embarked on a field trip to the Busoga subregion, aiming to gather firsthand insights into the various government programs transforming lives in this part of the country. This mission highlighted the significant progress and challenges in carrying out initiatives aimed at improving the lives of Ugandans, especially in the areas of farming, job training, and community growth. Under the theme "Hail Our Legends: A Secure Uganda is Now a Reality," we explored the impactful efforts within Iganga, Bugiri, and the broader Busoga subregion.

Iganga District is a farming innovation model in the Busoga region, mainly because of the Micro-scale Irrigation Project initiated in the 2019–2020 fiscal year. It began with a strong focus on sensitization and awareness creation among local leaders and farmers. The government set up demonstration sites to showcase the benefits of irrigated agriculture, leading to significant engagement and interest from the farming community.

By 2021–2022, the programme had enrolled several farmer beneficiaries who met the criteria for participation. Sensitization efforts included farmers' meetings, exchange visits, and field days, which were instrumental in spreading knowledge and best practices. Despite these efforts, financial constraints hindered many farmers from raising the required co-payment funds. However, 15 farmers managed to meet their obligations, resulting in the installation of irrigation systems that have since transformed their agricultural activities.

One notable beneficiary, Frank, contributed 25% of the funding for his solar micro-scale irrigation system, with the remaining 75% covered by the Government of Uganda. This system allows Frank to grow passion fruits all year round, selling them for UGX 6,000 per kilogram at the farm and UGX 8,000 at the market. This significant income boost demonstrates the project's potential to enhance livelihoods.

Challenges persist, including the high co-payment percentage and the cost of providing reliable water sources. The technical limitations of solar-powered irrigation systems without battery storage also pose issues. Nevertheless, the project's potential to enhance agricultural productivity and resilience among smallholder farmers remains promising.

The Parish Development Model (PDM) has made substantial strides in Iganga District, covering two constituencies and a municipality with 198 villages across 42 parishes. Under this model, 42 PDM SACCOs have been formed, receiving 4.5 billion shillings fully disbursed to 4,554 beneficiaries. The funds, allocated across various demographics, have supported enterprises in poultry, piggery, dairy, horticulture, fisheries, and coffee farming.

Despite facing challenges such as the deaths of animals and birds, the project has achieved approximately 70% implementation. For the current financial year, 2.1 billion shillings have already been deposited into SACCO accounts, with an additional 10.5 million shillings allocated for administrative costs. The project is awaiting the balance to complete the 55 million shillings, with assurances that the remaining funds will be disbursed before the end of May.

Mukisa Abdu Rahman, coordinating PDM in Iganga Municipality, has overseen the training and funding of 11 parishes. Each SACCO generated 1 million shillings, bringing the total to 108 million shillings before disbursement. The funds were allocated to various enterprises, with a significant portion directed towards poultry. However, issues of mismanagement and unguided procurement processes highlight the need for stronger oversight and accountability.


Ms. Naigaga Lilian coordinates the PDM program in Bugiri, and she says it has made strides despite the existing challenges. The Bugiri Municipality received UGX 200 million for PDM. Most beneficiaries are involved in poultry and dairy farming because, being an urban area, agricultural land is limited. The program has made a positive impact because of continuous monitoring and mindset-change training. The district leaders have encouraged beneficiaries to save regularly, and some farmers have started adding value to their produce, e.g., making yogurt for diary farmers and making tomato sauce for tomato farmers. 

In Bugiri, beneficiaries of the Parish Development Model (PDM), such as Nabwire Juliet and her group, have embraced horticulture as a means of economic empowerment. Despite facing challenges with pests, Juliet and her team have transitioned from market vending to horticulture, with aspirations of earning up to UGX 5 million in a good season.

However, challenges persist, such as the diversion of funds to non-PDM activities like school fees and the unique difficulties faced by urban beneficiaries, who are often tenants and move frequently. Naigaga highlights the importance of continuous monitoring and setting standards to prevent the repetition of past mistakes. The program's success hinges on a collective effort to change mindsets and ensure the funds are used appropriately.

In the Busoga subregion, the Presidential Industrial Hub in Jinja has been instrumental in addressing high school dropout rates and unemployment. Under the visionary leadership of President Yoweri Museveni, vocational training programs have been established, offering courses in seven disciplines: bakery and confectionery, tailoring and design, hairdressing and makeup, building and concrete practice, carpentry and joinery, welding and metal fabrication, and leather processing (shoe making).

The trainees from eleven districts, including Kamuli, Iganga, Bugiri, Mayuge, Jinja, Luuka, Bugweri, Buyende, Kaliro, Namutumba, and Namayingo, have completed their training and received certificates. These programs have provided young people with valuable skills, steering them away from low-paying jobs in sugar plantations and towards sustainable, skilled employment.

Phiona Mubugumya, the Busoga Sub-region Industrial Zonal Hub Manager, highlighted the transformative impact of these vocational training programs. The government's commitment to skilling Ugandans has borne fruit, empowering youth to secure better futures. Parents are encouraged to support their children and refrain from placing undue demands on them as they start their careers.

The field trip by the Uganda Media Centre staff highlighted the big steps forward made in the Busoga region through different government programs. From new farming methods in Iganga to community empowerment through the PDM and job training in Jinja, these efforts are helping to create a safer and more prosperous Uganda. Despite some challenges, the progress so far shows the government's dedication to improving the lives of its people.

As we celebrate Heroes Day under the theme "Hail Our Legends: A Secure Uganda is Now a Reality," it is evident that the vision and efforts of Uganda's leaders are yielding tangible benefits. The ongoing commitment to addressing challenges and enhancing the effectiveness of these programs will ensure that Uganda continues to move forward on the path to sustainable development and security for all its people.