Govt Sets Seasonal Vanilla Harvesting Dates

 
 
 

 

KAMPALA

The government has set harvesting dates for ripe vanilla beans in order to uphold high-quality produce ahead of the first season harvests.

Under the new government guidance to farmers, harvesting should commence from June 15 for the June-July season and December 15 for the December - January season. It is hoped that the new dates will improve the quality of produce in the country and guarantee attractive prices at the farm gate and world market.

State Minister for Agriculture Christopher Kibanzanga says the government set the harvesting dates, as a temporal measure to improve the quality of harvest for the plant which remains one of the world's most popular spices and an important ingredient in, chocolate and perfumes.

Uganda is the fourth largest global producer of Vanilla achieving up to 300,000 Kilograms of Vanilla in 2018 alone. Of this, 23,000 Kilograms was cured for export earning the country USD 6.4 Million in forex. The major importing countries for Ugandan vanilla include USA, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Israel, South Africa, Turkey and Hungary.

Kibanzanga says there are medium and long term measures being planned to boost production, harvesting and processing of Vanilla in the Country.

He cautioned farmers and exporters against involving in malpractices which affect production and quality including theft, harvesting pre-mature vanilla beans and de-colouring vanilla green beans through roasting. He said the government will prescribe tougher penalties for such people when caught.

Hajj Aga Sekalala Senior, the Chairperson of Uganda Vanilla Exporters Union says the absence of clearly spelt out Vanilla harvesting dates has been the single biggest hindrance to quality since the revival of Vanilla crop began some twenty years ago.

Hajj Sekalala says Vanilla farmers in some regions are developing by-laws to streamline production and harvesting of only mature Vanilla beans. He says a farmer can recognize mature beans by looking at the Apex splitting up as they ripen for picking nine months after pollination.

Alex Lwakuba, the Commissioner for Crop Production in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries says Vanilla crops face multiple challenges including thefts of the beans, premature harvests and climate change.

Lwakuba says the government is planning to address some of the hindrances through policies and robust security reforms.

Madagascar is the largest producer of Vanilla achieving between 1,500 to 1,800 Metric tons per year while Uganda only accounts for about 5 per cent of the Global Production.

 
 

Police Sued for Blocking Kyagulanyi Concerts

 
 
 
 

KAMPALA

Two Events companies Abtex Productions and Bajjo Events have dragged the government to court for blocking musical concerts featuring Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine.

The concerts had been organized in the districts of Kampala, Lira, Gulu, and Arua from Easter Monday, April, 22 to May 5, 2019. The events companies say that they had entered into an agreement with Bobi Wine and his crew to provide entertainment at 230 million Shillings through the Easter festivities.

The two companies had paid a non-refundable booking fee to Bobi Wine constituting half of the total cost for the four shows. However, they say that they have since suffered economic loss as a result of the cancellation of the concerts.

Through their lawyer Erias Lukwago, the companies contend that on March 25, 2019, they wrote to IGP requesting for security at the events. In his response, the IGP asked them to seek clearance to use the intended venues, guarantee ambulance facilities, avail a list of performers at each venue and a detailed program for each activity.

But the promoters say that although they fulfilled all the conditions, The IGP directed them to suspend the concerts with only two days to the D-Day.

They argue that the conduct of Police throughout the entire process was characterised with irrationality, illegality, procedural impropriety, bad faith and amounted to the violation of their freedom of liberty and economic rights enshrined in the constitution.

They now want the court to declare the actions of police illegal and unlawful on grounds that their constitutional rights to a fair hearing were allegedly violated.

They further want the court to issue an order stopping police and its agents from unduly interfering with their concerts. They also want an order for general and exemplary damages for violations of the rights and freedoms.

The case is yet to be fixed for hearing.

 
 

Luweero Residents annoyed over Failed Boreholes

 
 
 

 

LUWERO

The failed construction of boreholes at six villages across Luweero District has aroused discontent among residents and area leaders.

Luweero district had planned to construct 19 boreholes as part of a program to increase access to clean water in rural areas. The district contracted Underworld Resource Consult Limited to conduct hydrogeological surveys to establish appropriate sites for borehole drilling. The company was allocated two million shillings for each identified site.

The District also contracted Galaxy Agro- Tech Uganda Limited to sink the boreholes at 19 million Shillings each. However, only 13, out of the 19 planned boreholes, have been successfully sunk after the contractor found no water in the rest of the sites.

The failed boreholes were intended to address water shortage at Tema, Katagwe, Bukiibi, Binikira, Kasiribiti, Kyambogo and Kyampisi villages in Kikyusa, Kamira, Zirobwe and Luweero Sub Counties.

Tema village Defense Secretary Richard Kayondo explains that the area is in dire need of water sources to save the population from trekking long distances to fetch water from distant boreholes and unprotected sources.

Twaha Kabugo, the chairperson of Tema Borehole User Committee explains that the residents contributed 500,000 Shillings as co-fund the project but were disappointed after the contractor withdrew from the site citing lack of underground water. Kabugo adds that the contractor turned down requests to drill another site which could probably have enough water.

Florence Nkeretanyi, another resident says that the demand for water in the villages needs to be addressed in order to solve a puzzle that is also fuelling domestic violence and family breakdown.

Abu Ssematimba the LC III Chairperson of Kikyusa Sub County says that the contractors survived a mob that had attacked the workmen for withdrawing machines without drilling the borehole.

Luweero District Speaker Disan Kikabi demanded an investigation to establish why the district opted to split the two contracts. Kikabi says that it would have been easy to try another site within the same village if the company contracted to drill the borehole was the same which did hydrogeology survey.

Efforts to reach Underworld Resource Consult Limited to comment on failed boreholes were unfruitful. However, Luweero District Water Officer, Joseph Kanyike says that they have since asked the company to undertake another hydrogeology survey in selected villages. He added that a separate plan will be rolled out in villages where boreholes can hardly be sustained.

Kanyike also defended splitting contracts for borehole drilling saying that the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Water and Environment Alfred Okot Okidi recommended so because the arrangement allows the checks and balances in terms of execution of works since there is an independent supervisor.

He added that the Ministry also noted that in ‘lump sum contracts’ or ‘No water No Pay Contracts’ the contractors always resorted to drilling community boreholes in areas close to swamps and river banks away from the people, a trend that the new arrangement seeks to address.

According to the Luweero District water office, at least 32 per cent of households in Luweero district lack access to clean and safe water. The most affected households are in Kamira, Kikyusa, Makulubita, Zirobwe, Luweero and Kalagala sub-counties among others.

 
 

Teachers Boycott UNATU's Call for Strike

 
 
 

 

KAMPALA

Most schools in Kampala have boycotted a call by the Uganda National Teachers Union-UNATU for a teachers’ strike.

On Sunday, UNATU called for industrial action due to lack of salary enhancements in the 2019/2020 ministerial budget.

On Monday, some schools opened for a series of preparatory meetings ahead of the beginning of the next school term that is scheduled to start on May 27, 2019.

At the schools visited by PRIME RADIO reporter, it was business as usual. Staff meetings were taking place and offices were open. At other schools, admission of new students was underway.

David Ssegenddo the head teacher of Buganda Road Primary School says preparing for the new school term is not the same as teaching.

“Our teachers are preparing for the school term with the hope that schools will open on Monday. We cannot sit back and say that we are waiting for the strike to be called off before we can prepare for school term.”

Edward Kanoonya, the head teacher says that they encouraged teachers to come and prepare for the new school term because they did not want the strike to affect the learning process since second term is a busy term.

Agnes Kitimbo, a teacher at Mulago Primary School says that the timing of the strike is good because it gives government time to address the demands of all teachers in the country.

“Right now, there are no pupils at schools so the only thing we can do is prepare for the new term and hope that by the time the term opens, government would have found a way forward.”

Paul Moses Gulaale, the head teacher of Ntinda Primary School says that they had opened as usual to enable new and continuing pupils access services at the school.

According to the school calendar, the school term is supposed to open next week. However, some schools had already opened and some candidate classes are on-going.

Catherine Onen, the head teacher of Kitante Hill School says classes for candidates were expected to go ahead uninterrupted.

“We are hoping that government comes to an agreement with the teachers but for now, we are open because we have candidates that have heavy academic schedules to meet," Onen said.

Filbert Bates Baguma, the General Secretary of UNATU says that teachers showing up at schools will not deter the spirit of the strike.

“Laying down tools does not have a time table. We are on holiday but that doesn’t stop us from expressing ourselves because come the beginning of the school term, we shall not appear in classrooms. Whether it is holiday time or not, the call was made.”

UNATU is demanding the enhancement of all teacher salaries so that the least paid teacher earns 900,000 shillings on a monthly basis.

Joseph Ngobi, the Public Relations officer at the Ministry of Public Service says that government’s position on the pending matter will be released tomorrow.

“There’s a scheduled meeting tomorrow that shall be attended by all relevant stake holders from different ministries. After the meeting, we shall be in a better position to respond to the call of industrial action.”

 
 

Ssebulime Murder Suspect Arrested

 
 
 

 

KAMPALA

A police constable Robert Cherotich, who has been on the run following the shooting to death of Ronald Ssebulime, has been arrested.

Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, says that Cherotich will be charged along with two others in the force’s disciplinary tribunal since they were exonerated from criminal charges by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mike Chibita.

Ssebulime was allegedly handcuffed and then shot dead by police officers on a 999 Patrol vehicle number UP5745 that responded to Nantaba’s false assassination alerts on March 24 at Nagojje Trading Centre in Kayunga District.

Police investigations led by Kampala East regional criminal investigations commander, Bernard Muhumuza, zeroed on Corporal David Ssali, Police Constable, Ronald Opira, Ronald Buganda and Robert Cherotich who allegedly committed the crime.

However, Cherotich fled to unknown destination but police launched a hunt for him until he was apprehended at the weekend.

“We always encourage officers who have misconduct matters not to run away. Running away does not help because whether you go where you will still be arrested. Even if you go outside Uganda you will be brought back,” Enanga said.

Ssali, Opira and Baganza were arrested for killing Ssebulime who was later discovered he was heading to visit his children at St Andrew Kaggwa SS in Mukono district.

Ssali has since been charged after he recorded an extrajudicial statement confessing that he shot Ssebulime twice on his own.

Last week Enanga said that all investigations show that Ssali killed Ssebulime on his own and therefore his colleagues could not be charged for the crimes committed by their commander.

“All police officers who were on the Patrol car recorded a statements saying they tried to restrain Cpl Ssali not to shot the suspect but he did not listen. Ssali was their senior by virtue of the rank and they had little to do. We are handling their issues administratively,” Enanga said.

 
 

Increase Funding to Political Parties-IPOD

 
 
 

 

ENTEBBE

Members of the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue - IPOD Summit have resolved that funding to Political Parties with representation in Parliament be increased from the current 10 billion to 35 billion Shillings in the financial year 2019/2020.

According to IPOD Chairperson Nobert Mao, the parties agreed during the summit held last night that at least 15 per cent of the funding from the government, be allocated to the IPOD secretariat to intensify the quest for dialogue amongst political players in the country.

The summit brings together leaders and Secretary Generals of political parties, with representation in Parliament. It was attended by four of the five political parties with representation in Parliament, among them Uganda Peoples Congress-UPC, Justice Forum-JEEMA, Democratic Party-DP and the National Resistance Movement-NRM. The Forum for Democratic Change boycotted the meeting.

Mao said that the participating members adopted formula for sharing the funds which will see 40 per cent of the remaining funds go to the office of the leader of opposition while 60 per cent of the funds will be shared based on the numerical strength of each of the political parties in parliament.

The Summit also considered and adopted a draft of the Public Order Management regulations proposed by the IPOD council led by the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda. It is anticipated that the regulations will end disagreements between the Police and Political actors on the implementation of the Public Order Management Act.

The law has been a basis of clashes in recent years between security agencies and politicians. Although some say it mandates them to simply notify the police, others say that police permission is required for any political activity to take place.

The summit recognized that the absence of regulations has led to the harassment of Political activists by security agencies across the country. The summit agreed that the draft regulations proposed by the IPOD council be studied by the National Security Council and later be adopted by Parliament in not more than two months.

Meanwhile, the summit agreed that the government intensifies the drafting of electoral reforms and table them before parliament for enactment. The reforms will among others see the regulation of independent candidates vying for political positions across the country.

The summit agreed that in the reforms, candidates sponsored by Political parties will not be required to collect signatures from electoral areas for representation. Also, nomination fees for all candidates shall be reviewed so as to make vying for Political offices affordable.

The IPOD council is also expected to determine the threshold of the amount refunded to a candidate in case they lose elections while the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Local Governments are tasked with the creation of new electoral units in the different localities across the country.

President Museveni, who is also the National Chairperson of the National Resistance Movement-NRM Party, said he is committed to dialogue for the good of the country. Museveni also asked opposition politicians to also engage in building and developing communities instead of mobilizing them against all government programs.

The first summit was held at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort on December 12, 2018.

 
 

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