The World Bank, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, has provided Shs1.2 billion to help five farmer groups in Tororo District set up value-addition facilities for cassava, maize and rice.
Among the selected farmer groups is Osukuru United Women Network, which was allocated Shs237m, Naweyo United Farmers Group (Shs300m), and Community Child Care Initiative Kisoko (Shs237m).
Others are Deliverance Church Ochegen Sacco Kwapa (Shs237m), and Merikit Progressive Farmers Association (Shs300m).
The groups will use the grants under the agriculture cluster development project to procure processing equipment, among others.
Construction is expected to be complete within a period of three months before agro-processing machines are installed at different sites belonging to the farmers' groups.
During the handover of construction sites to the farmers on Monday, the Tororo Resident District Commissioner, Mr Nickson Owole, urged the beneficiaries to own and utilise the facilities, saying it will help them to add value to their products and earn better pay.
He asked the contractors to ensure the works are of high quality that reflect value for money.
"Government has extended support to your groups and what we expect from you is to own the project so that it helps to change lives economically," he said.
The Tororo District chairperson, Mr John Okeya, said value-addition will increase farm productivity and market for the selected agricultural commodities among the groups.
"This is a well-intended programme, which should be supported to thrive. It will help our people get out of poverty," he said.
He, however, said MPs should enact a provision in the Public Procurement and Disposal Act that compels contractors to declare their wealth before qualifying for any contract from government.
"This will help the government to transact business with firms that are capable of doing the work," he said.
The principal assistant secretary in the office of the chief administrative officer, Mr Jackson Osudo, said government will procure more value-addition machines to be given to other farmer groups.
"Other farmers have been supported with quality planting inputs and irrigation schemes that have seen them produce throughout the year," he said.
Mr Michael Okello, a grants officer working with Agriculture Cluster Development Project in the Ministry of Agriculture, appealed to the district leadership to ensure close supervision of the project.