By Our Reporter
MUKONO, [SHIFTMEDIA] The Minister for Science Technology and Innovation Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza is on the spot for halting the release of funds for the silkworms project in Uganda.
According to Dr. Clet Wandui Masiga, the Executive Director Sericulture Project and Project Principal Investigator at the Tropical Institute of Development Innovation (TRIDI), the minister is still trying to ‘understand’ what exactly silk growing is.
The Commercialization of Sericulture Technologies and Innovations Project for household wealth creation and employment generation in Uganda is being implemented by TRIDI in partnership with Government of Uganda.
The journey to invest in Silk in Uganda was formerly recognized in the textile policy that came into force in January 2010. The Textile policy emphasizes that Silk is another fibre produced in few Districts of the country, mainly in the Western and Central Regions of the Country. If the silk Sub-sector is developed, there is potential to spur village level processing especially the cottage industry which would offer income opportunities for women and youth.
The Costs of Delays
The Minister’s decisions to halt the disbursement of UGX43b approved by Parliament for this silk innovation project is taking a huge toll on creation of jobs, and the enhancement of increased revenue for the country.
Dr. Wandui Masiga said by Dr. Musenero saying that she is yet to understand the whole concept of the silk project is hurting the entire planned project that seeks to create over 300,000 jobs across the country. Efforts to get Dr Musenero for a reaction were futile by press time.
“Parliament appropriated the Project UGX43B to ensure commercial production of Silk. The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development made available the funds but up to now we have not received any funding. The delayed release of funds is causing economic waste of investment and denying Ugandans the jobs both at Technical and non-technical levels. Our estimated losses shall be UG73B shillings should we not receive the funds in a timely manner this Financial Year alone,’ said Wandui
“Currently we have over 2,000 acres of land with mulberry a key ingredient for feeding silkworms. We are already employing 1300 people. But since the funds have delayed we are losing over UGX4 billion per month in losses,” he said as he addressed the media at the Namasumbi station in Mukono
He noted that the Sericulture, Silk Industry and Silk by products Industry is contributing to implementation of the NDPIII programmes on Innovation, Technology Development and Transfer Programme.
“We are to implement this program in 50 districts though we are currently in 24 districts and operating over 34 stations with two state of the art sill processing factories running in Sheema and Kween districts,” he said.
Wandui said with sadness that the 2,239 acreage of mulberry would yield UGX4B in leaves, UGX8B in Cocoons, UGX 208B in sale of Silk and Yarn and UGX 40B in silk fabric annually.
Why the challenges?
Hardships begun to be experienced in the Financial year 2021/22 when there was transition from former Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MOSTI) to Science Technology and Innovations Office of the President (STI-OP).
Dr. Wandui said the delayed release of funds has led to the death of seven of their staffs.
“We are now stuck, we had ordered for other silk processing machines in China and already paid as required an advance of US$1.6M, if we don’t clear the outstanding balance, we are set to lose that money as well,” he said.
He said that by the time the budget process was concluded for this financial year, TRIDI had planted mulberry on more than 1500 acres, and two factories that process the silk cocoons into yarn were under installation.
“Since Parliament understood our direction of thinking and appropriated us funds, we abandon the idea of mobilizing funds from investors, grants from development organizations, and loans. We still need stable funding to be able to meet our objective,” he said.
Wandui explained that sustainable funding is needed in order to avoid either interruption or loss of already invested resources.