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Cooperative Leaders Flee To RDC’s Office As Vanilla Farmers Hunt For Them

More than 30 Vanilla buying agents from Kyalhumba Sub County in Kasese District have fled with their families from angry farmers after failing to collect their payments from the big buyer, Jaysem Investments Uganda Limited.

The agents are working with Kaghema Rwenzori Green Star Coffee and Vanilla Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited headquartered in Kyalhumba Town Council.

The agents pitched camp at the Resident District Commissioners-RDC’s at Kasese municipal headquarters on Friday after failing to find the company officials to explain to them why they have never been paid for almost 15 months now.

The group told URN that they were convinced by two of the company agents based in Kasese to aid farmers form groups and that they will be buying their vanilla in bulk.

The group leaders say they went further to even have a memorandum of understanding in March 2021 with Jaysem and among others, farmers were to be paid two days after delivery.

They claim that this understanding was also witnessed by the former deputy RDC Joshua Masereka.

The company eventually started collecting the vanilla from farmers on behalf of Jaysem.

Kasighalire Katsubokiro, the director Kaghema Rwenzori Green Star Coffee and Vanilla Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited says Jaysem owes 761 million shillings.

He adds that the angry farmers have threatened his life and that of his family if he does not pay their money.

Katsubokiro says his family and those of cooperative agents on Friday fled their villages to seek safety in the RDC’s office.

He told URN that they had written numerous letters to both the security and political authorities in the district but no action has been taken to trace the company agents.

The company director also alleges that on occasions Jaysem has given them cheques that have bounced.

The cooperative chairperson, Augustine Kule who is also camped at Booma grounds said they have sold some of their personal and company belongings to clear farmer’s debts but the debt still remains huge.

He says have failed to handle the issue since the Jaysem investment directors have kept on avoiding them.

Kule says he travelled to Kampala last week to engage the company heads but he was only informed by one of the director Sultan Ssematimba that the person who handled this particular transaction was not available.

He added that 364 farmers are demanding their money from the cooperative.

Through their lawyer, the cooperative society in December last year filed a case in the industrial court but this is yet to be fixed for hearing.

One of the cooperative agent John Muhirwa from Kisinga town council said he mobilized 29 Farmers under Kinyonkoko 1 farmers group and they delivered over two tonnes of vanilla amounting to 103 million shillings.

He says Jaysem promised to pay within two weeks due to the lock-down hindrances but they have since disappeared.

Agnes Biira, one of the farmers, claimed she sold her goats to have her two children return to school this term after the company failed to pay her 5 million shilling for her vanilla sales.

Jaysen company director Sultan Sematimba told URN that the company was taking the necessary steps including legally compelling the responsible person in the company to ensure the farmers are paid.

The RDC Lt. Joe Walusimbi is yet to comment about the matter as he was away in the field at the time the agents fled into his premises to save their lives from the angry farmers.

URN

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