By Charity N Namanya
Wazalendo monitoring and evaluation team led by the CEO Col Joseph Freddy Onata has visited Gen Kale Kayihura’s Katebe Business Farm limited located in Kasagama, Lyatonde District.
The team visited over 8 projects run by the farm which included; Banana plantation , Gonja plantation, pastures , Bee keeping, horticulture , goat, Ankole and Friesian cattle rearing , and value addition projects such as yoghurt production, Alkaline water production, production of crisps from Gonja and milling of banana flour.
Gen Kayihura told the monitoring and evaluation team that there is nothing that is produced from the farm that is sold in it’s raw from and that Katebe Business Farm focusses on value addition. He noted that the farm now partners with other small farms in order to meet the excess demand for in puts.
Gen Kayihura asked Wazalendo Savings and Credit Cooperative Society to Mobilize organized groups within it’s membership and support them to engage in production and value addition as that is the only sure way of helping the members to improve their welfare and enable them to contribute to social economic transformation and national development.
Kayihura narrated that after leaving Public Service in 2013 he got time to utilize the land that he had bought in 1992 and had remained unproductive due to the kind of work that he was doing which required him to be in office full time.
” I discovered this land during our NRA movements. I knew it was a strategic one in terms of doing business. Geographically it is located in Northern Lyantonde. It borders Ssembabule and Kiruhura Districts and is in the centre of the greater Ankole and greater Masaka. In terms of doing business therefore, this place is better than Kampala because of its strategic location.
Based on the strategic location of this land, I identified a number of projects with forward and backward linkages that can be effectively implemented on this land and this led to the formation of a family Agribusiness company known as Katebe Business Farm Limited where I am the CEO”. Gen Kayihura stated.
Kayihura noted that he has learned a lot of lessons from managing these projects, especially the basics of value addition and the opportunities that exist by organizing the small farmers as the foundation of massive production.
He further noted that while HE President Museveni normally talks about concepts such as Agro industrialization among others, the implementers seem not to be having the same understanding and this needs to be addressed as the country embarks on implementing the Parish Development Model (PDM).
He further noted that there is power that comes with integration and team work. He observed that if groups and communities are supported financially they can effectively utilize the services rendered to them and develop their communities. The main challenge however remains the cost of capital to support Agro industrialization due to high lending rates from commercial banks. This is where the need for SACCOs as a basis for mobilizing local capital comes in. Gen Kayihura pointed out
Gen Kayihura applauded the Commander in Chief and the Late Gen Aronda Nyakairima for spearheading the establishment of WSACCO. He also applauded the current UPDF leadership together with WSACCO leadership for continuing with the Vision and ensuring the growth of Wazalendo SACCO not just as a welfare project but also a strategic investment by the UPDF personnel.
“As one of the founders and the first Chairman Board of Directors Wazalendo SACCO, am proud to inform you that this project was very necessary in helping the Army leadership to address the welfare of it’s personnel while at work and at their homes. We had earlier done research together with Gen Kayanja in Malawi and Zambia in 1989 with a view of establishing a Cooperative society for the UPDF officers and men.
We had read that the USA military had a credit union with a membership of over one million members. We brainstormed about replicating it in UPDF but we were not successful because of mistrust within our own leadership and also the rigid regulation at the time.
As Chief Political Commissar (CPC) by that time, under the guidance of the late Gen Aronda Nyakairima, we resurrected the idea in 2003 and sent different teams to go and conduct research within East Africa, rest of Africa and beyond. It is that research that culminated into the establishment of WSACCO.
The biggest challenge then was explaining the idea to the soldiers and also direct sabotage by the commercial banks which were exploiting our personnel through expensive salary earners scheme loans.
This was resolved in a meeting held in 4 Div HQs where a resolution was made to go ahead with the SACCO and have the commanders play a leading role in explaining the idea to the soldiers.
I am a very proud and active member of WSACCO. I am happy to see that our efforts yielded good results that we enjoy today. The project has not only helped the low ranking soldiers but even the Generals like me have benefited.
I can never forget when WSACCO gave me my savings which enabled me to pay for my daughter’s course in USA. Of recent, I borrowed a loan of 200 million to finance the operations of the projects that I have here in Katebe Agribusiness Farm.
From the members point of view, I can comfortably say that WSACCO’s services are affordable and convenient. I was able to process a loan of 200M within one day and without having to attach any security other than my UPDF salary I do not see any reason as to why I should leave my own SACCO to get credit from commercial banks” he stressed.
The General emphasized the need for Public Private Partnership to support the farmers, entrepreneurs to solve the problem of production.
” I am thankful to God that I am doing the continuation of the struggle, by making sure I teach members of my community what I do to boost our economy and individual welfare. I am confident that the future of the country is brighter through effective industrialisation , Agribusiness, Entrepreneurship a reviving Cooperatives. I have no doubt wazalendo has transformed the lives of our soldiers and their families, a soldier who is financially stable can never fail to perform ” he noted .
He asked the WSACCO to mobilize groups like of veterans and partner with other sister institutions like Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) in order to benefit from government programs.
Col Joseph Freddy Onata the CEO wazalendo SACCO appreciated Gen Kale Kayihura for being a good leader who laid a strong foundation on which WSACCO still stands today. He added that if it was not for the good UPDF leadership and guidance wazalendo would not be where it is now.
” Wazalendo SACCO management is committed to driving the vision and mission for which the SACCO was established and to serve our members with convenience and fairness so that their expectations are met by solving their financial needs. We have now embarked on allowing other organized groups within the membership to join and save with us,” he stated .
Onata added , “We have also operationalized the business savings account to enable members to save from other sources other than salary and use their business savings as collateral to enable them to borrow from the SACCO using their business savings.
He informed the General that as part of it’s growth strategy, WSACCO has established a business arm; Wazalendo Investments (SMC) Ltd that will allow the SACCO to engage in other businesses for which SACCOs are restricted by law. We are hopeful that WSACCO shall continue creating additional value to members through the business arm .”.
Col Onata thanked Gen Kale Kayihura for accepting the Monitoring and Evaluation team to visit his projects. He assured General Kayihura that the information shared and lessons that the team has picked will be valuable to WSACCO’s product development and credit extension to members.
He asked other senior officers to emulate Gen Kayihura in utilizing the SACCO credit rendered to them and also guide their subordinates on enterprise selection, loan usage and other welfare matters.
The other members of M&E included Mr Milton Asiimwe, the manager WSACCO M&E, Capt Peterson Mateso PA to the CEO.
Editor ‘s Note :Charity N Namanya is ,Public Relations Manager- Wazalendo SACCO.
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