ZOMBO. Zombo and Nebbi coffee nursery operators’ association has given the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) a 10-day ultimatum to clear their accumulated arrears since 2019.
The visibly furious coffee nursery operators have also resolved to lead a peaceful demonstration if their demand is not met within the 10 days.
The nursery operators were on Tuesday meeting in Gira village, Paidha town council to find a lasting solution to their woes.
Mr Stephen Ringtho Anecho who chaired the meeting said according to the contract agreement they signed with the government through the UCDA, they were to be paid within 3 months after making supplies but the agreement has never been honoured.
He is demanding over Shs 200 million from the UCDA after making supplies of over 800,000 coffee seedlings supplied in the last quota of 2019/2020.
Mr Bob Jakisa, resident of Boma East in Nebbi municipality said he is demanding the government over Shs 14 million for supplies of over 41,000 seedlings made in the first quota of the 2019/2020 financial year.
According to Jakisa, most of them picked loans from banks to invest in the coffee nursery business but their efforts have been greatly undermined by the perpetual and unexplained delay in making payments on the side of government.
“We go through a lot to supply the UCDA with seedlings but we are always taken for granted by their false promises to regularize pay”, he said.
He said the aftermath of COVID-19 has dealt them a great blow since they have to scratch from almost nothing to survive with their families.
Mr Emanuel Jagen said some coffee nursery operators are to date still demanding arrears of 2013/2014 and the UCDA has continued to promise air.
“We are tired of the empty promises because we are doing business in which we also made sizable investments in order to deliver their venture”, he said.
When contacted, Mr. Sam Kermundu, the UCDA regional extension officer for West Nile explained that the delay is a country-wide challenge on account of non-release of funds on the side of the government.
He implored the coffee nursery operators to remain calm as the government sorts out their arrears.
“I’m calling upon you to remain calm because all is being done to ensure you get your pay,” he assured the complainants.
It’s not the first time that coffee nursery operators are complaining of delayed pay. In the 2018/19 quotas, the coffee nursery operators also formally lodged their complaints to the President’s office and the Executive Director UCDA but claim the letters were not delivered to the responsible offices for reasons best known to some cliques within the UCDA.