The crackdown on the embezzlement of funds from the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) moved to Sembabule today with the investigation of the district NAADS Coordinator, David Balyehuki and six sub-county coordinators.
In the past eight months more than 15 NAADS officials around the country have either been suspended from their jobs or sacked for theft of program money. There are also numerous investigations into the mismanagement of the fund meant for agricultural development and improvement of subsistence farms.
Robert Twesigye, the Sembabule Chief Administrative Officer, says the district NAADS Coordinator and his subordinates have failed to account for 171 million shillings disbursed for agricultural improvement activities. He says investigations into the alleged fraud, ordered by the Agriculture Minister Hope Mwesigye, was prompted by complaints from more than 85,000 farmers who claim to have been locked out of NAADS programs.
Last financial year Sembabule received more than 889 million shillings for NAADS programs. However the money intended to buy agricultural inputs for the sub-counties of Lwebitakuli, Lwemiyaga, Mijwala, Ntuusi, Lugusulu and Mateete cannot be accounted for and its use is unknown.
Sam Katabazi, a farmer from Nsambya village in Lugusulu, says he was excited by the news that NAADS funds had been availed to his sub-counties. He was surprised when he and his neighbors did not receive any of the program funds.
The Sembabule NAADS Coordinator, David Balyehuki, denies any involvement in the fraud. He says the money received was used to buy maize and bean seeds that were distributed in March this year. He says he has documents to prove this, which he will submit to the Chief Finance Officer later this week.
Balyehuki claims that not all the money intended for Sembabule was sent by the NAADS Secretariat. He gives the example of funding for food security, which has never been disbursed to the district coffers.