Gulu- The coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Gen Salim Saleh, has said the government programme was messed up at its initiation when the soldiers implementing it applied military methods to handle civilians.
“It [OWC] was supposed to be a framework for everybody so that we have one channel of communication but we made a mistake and tried to apply the military way. We are finding it very difficult to communicate with civilians,” Gen Saleh said last Thursday.
His revelation comes days after OWC fired 54 army officers for incompetence and sent back to the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) for redeployment.
Gen Saleh made the remarks during a multi-stakeholders review meeting on value chains of vegetable oil crops in Gulu District.
The review was organised by International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) and the Ministry of Agriculture.
President Museveni launched OWC in 2013 to fight poverty by facilitating food security and household incomes through farming. He castigated officials of the National Agricultural Advisory Services for mismanaging the poverty eradication programme.
Mr Museveni said he would deploy soldiers to ensure proper and equitable distribution of agricultural inputs.
Early this year, Gen Saleh called for implementation of the regional logistics hub and the e-voucher card system as key steps to refresh the programme.
At the review, Gen Saleh said OWC programme has been characterised by delivery of poor quality inputs, late delivery of inputs, weak farmers groups, absence of well-equipped logistics hubs and inflation, which have hampered the efforts to reduce poverty.
He said government and development partners have spent billions of shillings on anti-poverty programmes but the people seem disinterested.
“Both farmers and stakeholders fighting poverty seems very disorganised and do not know what they want as far as fighting poverty is concerned,” Gen Saleh said.
Gen Saleh, however, pledged to supply farmers with the inputs they want instead of what the government wants to give them.
On sacking 54 soldiers
Explaining why he fired the 54 army officers, Gen Saleh said they were feeding government with wrong information about what enterprises to embrace.
“According to the report I got from Acholi-bur, we have supplied 120,000 mango seedlings at Shs400 each which have never yielded results since the farmers did not want mango seedlings,” he said.