Mabaati Scandal: Ministers Kitutu and Nandutu make first trip to Karamoja


The Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Ms Mary Goretti Kitutu, and her junior, Ms Agnes Nandutu, recently embarked on their inaugural journey back to Karamoja, nearly seven months following corruption charges related to the diversion of iron sheets meant for the region. During their visit to Nabuin Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Nabuin, Napak District, and Namalu Prison farms in Nakapiripirit District, the ministers focused on assessing the progress of the seed multiplication project, aimed at introducing new crop varieties tailored for Karamoja's soil to combat food insecurity.

Despite the looming corruption charges, the ministers received a warm welcome from locals, who celebrated their arrival with dance. This positive reception marked a shift from the warnings issued by some regional leaders after the ministers' court appearance in April.

During the weekend function, Ms Kitutu highlighted that her ministry had allocated Shs1b to support the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in developing high-quality, drought-resistant seeds for various crops. These seeds, including those for maize, sorghum, peas, grapes, coffee, and olives, are intended for distribution to over 30,000 farmers across all nine districts in Karamoja in the upcoming season.

Despite the significant progress, Ms Kitutu noted the need for additional funding, stating that agricultural experts were seeking around Shs2.5b to expand seed development and cover approximately 27 million farmers.

The ministers also toured Namalu Prison farm, where 700 metric tonnes of maize are stored, awaiting distribution to hunger-affected districts such as Abim, Karenga, Kotido, and Kaabong, where wild animals had damaged crops.

Minister Nandutu emphasized that the introduction of drought-resistant crops in Karamoja aims not only to enhance food security but also to stimulate commercial farming, addressing the challenges faced by the region's residents. Dr. Paul Okullo, the executive director of Nabuin Zonal Agriculture Research Institute, expressed optimism about producing 50 metric tonnes of seeds, marking a crucial step in promoting food security for Karamoja, the first of its kind in 30 years.

Dr. Anthony Ijalu, a crop scientist at the institute, affirmed the high quality of the developed seeds, highlighting their potential impact on improving agricultural outcomes in Karamoja.

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