Stakeholders in the cotton sector have asked Parliament to investigate how indicative cotton prices and levies are set by the cotton authority to the detriment of farmers.

The decision by farmers, ginners and legislators from cotton growing areas were prompted by a submission by Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) and ginners to indicate that cotton prices will reduce from Shs1,600 to Shs1,000 per kilogramme countrywide for this year’s harvest.

A meeting of stakeholders in Kampala failed to agree with the accountability of Shs46.8 billion presented by Agriculture Minister, Mr Tress Bucanayandi. The money was the collection made in the 2010/11 season in levies.

The meeting convened by the office of the Prime Minister and chaired by the 3rd deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali, attracted stakeholders including farmers, ginners, exporters and MPs from cotton growing areas to deliberate on the progress report on resolutions of Parliament on cotton issues.

“We demanded that three parties in the cotton sector; CDO, ginners and Uganda Ginners and Cotton Exporters’ Association refund the said monies to the farmers after it was realised that it belonged to them,” said a farmer from Lira, who asked not to be named.
This newspaper learnt that MPs led by Ms Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman) demanded that CDO and its partner stakeholders immediately halt the levy collection of the Shs200 per kilogramme started this season.

“If the levy collection does not stop then there will be no more cotton production until the system is streamlined,” Ms Ogwal, reportedly told the meeting.

Accountability queries
“We disagreed with the authority on how the money was spent by CDO to buy seeds, chemicals, spray pumps, training farmers and paying extension workers, which was already done by government,” said former MP Charles Angiro Gutumoi.

He said that they demanded to know the beneficiaries of the training conducted by CDO as well as beneficiaries of ox-ploughs in each sub-county of cotton growing areas. CDO levies Shs600 per kilogramme of seed cotton.

Mr Bucanayandi, however, denied any investigation by Parliament. “The money in question belongs to ginners and farmers and these are in the private sector but there will be a study which is a routine exercise for improvement in production and productivity,” he said.

By Ephraim Kasozi, Daily Monitor

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