KAMPALA- The Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI), a private company implementing government’s national silk production project, has denied allegations of misuse of funds by Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero.
Media reports on Monday, October 31, 2022 indicated that Dr Musenero recommended the suspension of a silk farming project, claiming it has led to a loss of Shs36b.
“Up to FY2021/2022, TRIDI has received and expended a total of Shs36.2b. For FY 2022/2023, Shs42.4b has been allocated to the sericulture project, Shs26b through Vote 001 and Shs16.43b through Vote 002,” Dr Musenero said in a statement on Friday.
However, TRIDI Executive Director Mr Clet Wandui Masiga revealed that after a disagreement with the minister concerning the direction she was taking the company, she resorted to black mail, criminal activities and eventual suspension of funding without cause.
“The funds appropriated to the project by Parliament and released by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development have not been released to the project since the beginning of this financial year. We disagreed with the direction of Hon. Monica Musenero on dangerous proposals she was making and she embarked on a mission to frustrate, sabotage and destroy the project, and the staff and the implementing institution, TRIDI,” he said in a statement dated November 2, 2022.
In a MoU signed between the ministry and TRIDI in FY 2020/2021, the company set several objectives over a five-year period. One of them was to increase the acreage of mulberry from 200 acres to 50,000 acres in 50 districts.
Mr Masiga revealed that by end of FY2021/2022 the project had completed construction of two shells for two research centres in Sheema and Mukono and had supported the establishment and Management of 2000 acres of mulberry in 24 districts which will serve as sources of planting materials to serve 50 districts and as training and research sites.
“The project had also acquired additional 800 acres of land for establishment of silk factory and production of mulberry for silkworm rearing. Three more silk reeling and reeling machines were being manufactured and are now ready for shipping from China to Uganda. Installation of two modern factories was awaiting funds to be completed,” he explained.
According to Mr Masiga, ten shells for rearing of silk worm were under construction in Mukono, Nwoya, Gomba, Mubende, Kween, Kitagata, Kiruhura, Busitema/Busia, Nakaseke, and Luwero.
“The project employed a total of 139 full time staff and 1300 casual workers who derive their livelihoods from the project. The project has also recruited graduate trainees to be allocated different project sites to offer technical support. 140 Ugandans are undergoing different trainings to work across the different activities in the silk value chain,” he added.
Minister Musenero further alleged that the procured acres of land have unclear ownership but Mr Masiga noted that government gave TRIDI money to procure land for the project whose payment was cleared between January and March 2022 and has never been registered in the names of Clet Masiga.
“This land is in Kween 100 acres, Nwoya 177 acres, Bulambuli 200 and Kayunga 400 acres. Any investments before government procured land were done on private land,” he revealed.
The suspension and withholding of the funds since the beginning of the Financial year according to Mr Masiga means that the tender mulberry cannot be maintained, the rearing houses cannot be completed or constructed, training of Ugandans to operate the installed machinery cannot be done, clearing the payment of the machinery whose deposit of 30% has been done cannot be done and there shall be significant losses.
“Our current investment into the project is now estimated to be valued at sh73b. The funds are needed to support implementation of planned activities which include Commercialization of mulberry establishment on established 2,000 acres, Finalisation of procurement of 2300 acres of land in Bulambuli District for Silk Development, Clearing the payment of Machines for post coon processing, Building of capacity for silk worm egg production and supply, completing the Silkworm rearing house, the acquisition of post cocoon technologies and the establishment of mulberry plants to take advantage of the coming rain season and continuous management of tender stage of the established mulberry gardens. This project target was to create 300,000 jobs,” said Masiga.
He further noted that since the matters are before court, Prime Minister’s Office and solicitor general, they believe that the mentioned offices will intervene to settle the issues professionally.
“The public should know that the minister’s utterances are all false. She only needs to understand the design of the project and its objectives,” said Masiga.
The project model, as revealed by Mr Masiga is guided by the baseline and feasibility study that was conducted in FY2017/2018 which identified 10 entry districts and 40 other districts at project commercialization/expansion stage.
“We are using a Nucleus farmer model approach. This model is a large farm unit (plantation, large-scale farm) which guarantees a certain minimum provision of raw material for a large scale processing plant or other downstream aggregation use, while the other part of the raw material is procured from smaller farmers who are linked throughout grower arrangement to the nucleus. In other words, this model combines both small- and large-scale farming and avoids large scale farming and reduces transport and communication costs, requires less land acquisitions and distributes wealth more equitably and ensures availability of raw materials to support agro-industrialization,” he explained
The Vision of the project is to generate maximum employment in the silk, silk industry and silk by products industry by attracting new investment and using the latest technology to improve the standard of living of the poor, create jobs, wealth and economic development.