Today, rice production has become a major food security crop in Uganda as well as cash crop, almost throughout the country but mainly in eastern and western Uganda with the introduction of upland rice varieties.
The availability of lowlands with high moisture and contents throughout the growing season has favored rice production in eastern and western parts of the country and among the districts like, Apac, Pallisa, Lira, Toro, Kamwenge, Bugri, Jinja, Iganga, and many others.
However, this rice is not enough to feed the country. Sometimes, to make matters worse, it is even exported outside the country prompting shrewd businessmen and women to engage in rice importation trade. This trade has become so lucrative that anyone who threatens it must be seen as an insect that must be crushed there and then.
This is a storm that the trade ministry under stewardship of Mzee Francis Mwebesa as the cabinet minister at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), Harriet Ntabazi (State Minister for Trade) and Commissioner external trade, Emmanuel Mutahunga are involved in of late.
Their crime is that they are imposing an unknown body onto rice traders to regulate them. It is called Rice Agribusiness Development Foundation (RADFO). It has been duly registered in Uganda under the company law CAP2012 as an association to unite all the rice dealers, Traders in all parts of the country under one umbrella to reportedly better improve the stability of the rice sector in Uganda.
To some rice traders, this is unacceptable and they have vowed to fight it to the dot. All RADFO subscribing members who number about 70 so far, must pay Shs180,000 per ton of rice imported. In a month, over Shs 1bn is collected. This money reportedly helps to run the association’s activities (including facilitating top leaders allowances and salary in billions) and the rest is remitted back to members on a weekly basis.
Officials say it is more like a savings group (read SACCO) for rice importing members such that they can be able to address unexpected eventualities in near future as they go about their rice import activities. Those haranguing RADFO however, contend that this money ends in pockets of a few individuals including line ministers.
There are allegations that some of the members running RADFO are connected to minister Ntabazi (read relatives) and as well Mwebesa. It goes without mention that already there is an uproar at the ministry over two staffers who are allegedly related to Mwebesa biologically (it is not clear if they are his biological children though they pose as one). These are Theo Toepista and one Sebastian. Insiders say they are like his top confidants and are ever sniffing into each and every matter as long as it concerns money. Some of those trade matters or deals include fishnets, timber, rice and others. It is not clear if they act with the knowledge of Mwebesa or not.
RADFO TOP BOSSES NAMED
Amidst all this storm, today we reveal bosses calling shots at all powerful RADFO which is trying to break the status quo in rice trade.
Ntabazi insists that the decision of the government to assign RADFO as an apex body was not a selective or one person’s decision. That it was a collective decision by all members including the rice associations. “The terms and reference of RADFO were never to collect any money from anybody and it wasn’t written in the letters that I wrote,” Ntabazi said.
Karim Karamagi (Patron), Hassan Ssekabira (Chairman), Nabayinda Hadija (Vice chairperson), Moses Sekandi (General secretary), Amdan Kasirivu (Treasurer), Henry Nalumenya (Vice treasurer), Emmanuel Yiga (Mobiliser Kampala), Idi Kazibwe (Mobiliser Mutukula), Mayanja (Mobiliser Tanzania), Tinah Zalwango (Board member). Others are Moses Sekandi (chief administrator), Tracrine Nasasira (Accountant), Elias Ojore (systems administrator), Benjamin Tingu (Systems manager), Jjuko Shakiru ( Systems and operations), Brenda Nampeera (legal officer), Milton Isoba (operations officer), Agnes Kanyesigye ( head operations department), Emmanuel Yiga (Assistant head operations), Allan Nyanzi (operations officer), Wilson Kashaija (operations officer entry gate), Abas Kazibwe (operations), Evelyn Babirye(promotions and marketing), Florence (office attendant), Deborah (office attendant).
Edgar Mugisha (Rice Development Association and director Rubicon S.Ltd); Peter Asasira (director Resty Agrotech ltd); Maurice Ankwasa (Rice importers Association); Apera America (manager Ceciron ltd) ; and Hashim Namanaya (Director ABA Construction Ltd).
Innocent Gatare (Bethany Ltd), Stephen Kaboba (manager Charnt Agencies ltd), Patrick Ssenkima (Manager D&M ltd), David Mugoya (B&E Investments ltd), John Mugisha, John Alinaitwe and Ochom Joshwa (Wilex Commodities Ltd).
RADFO bosses plan to set up their own milling plant and as well setting up a model farm in east and Kyanamukaaka-Masaka totaling to 3459.4 hectares for purposes of engaging in large scale rice farming.
They are now in control of all rice importing border points from Tanzania, the main one being Mutukula. Others are Luzira PortBell, Kasensero and Kikagati. In our next publication we shall be naming Uganda’s top rice importers/dealers. (DO YOU HAVE A HOT STORY (CHEATERS, DIVORCE, VIDEOS, CORRUPTION, LAND WRANGLES, EXPOSES …ETAL) YOU WOULD LIKE US TO PUBLISH? CALL/TEXT/WHATSAPP 0777959024 OR EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org)