The government is on the verge of reclaiming land belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture, which has reportedly been seized in different parts of the country.
“We are going to launch a real war to reclaim government land belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture and to dispose of title deeds for development purposes,” said Frank Tuwmwebaze, Minister of Agriculture, Industry Animal and Fishing.
Mr. Tuwmwebaze made the remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the agricultural mechanization center in Bungokho area in Bungokho sub-county, Mbale district on Tuesday.
This was after Mbale’s president, Mr. Muhammad Mafabi, revealed that some people, whom he did not name, wanted to take over the land from the ministry that houses the mechanization center, but the district council opposed it.
Mr Tumwebaze applauded leaders for protecting government land, but also acknowledged that cases of land grabbing were rife.
He said the center is one of 18 facilities, which will be built across the country with the aim of facilitating access to agricultural mechanization equipment and services.
“It will be a single stopping point for the procurement of all agricultural mechanization services in this region. All equipment units will be deployed here for the farmers,” Tumwebaze said.
He explained that agricultural mechanization will lead to processing, which will lead to increased productivity.
“Currently there are less than 5,000 tractors in the country, not enough to boost mechanization and employment,” Tumwebaze said.
The construction of the Bungokho zonal center follows the completion of Agwata in Dokolo district and Buwana in Mpigi district.
The center will serve farmers in the Mount Elgon subregion, parts of the southern Teso, Bukedi and Sebei subregions.
It will house the workshops, service areas, manufacturing and welding, bodybuilding and spraying, assembly and maintenance of agricultural machinery and equipment.
Mr. Boniface Okanya, project coordinator at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the center will test and certify agricultural machinery and equipment. “This will reduce counterfeiting and the importation of obsolete machinery,” he said, adding that the work is expected to be completed in September.
“Farmers will pay 40 percent of the cost to access the machines from the center,” he said.
Mr. Mafabi said the focus will be agricultural productivity.
“Many farmers depended on traditional and ancient tools and equipment. But now that will change and improve productivity, ”he said.
Mbale District Resident Commissioner Ms Asumin Nasike urged residents to support the socio-economic development project.