The Tropical Institute for Development Innovation (TRIDI) sericulture project, which involves the production of silk and the rearing of silkworms, has encountered difficulties due to the suspension of government funding. More than 2,000 workers, including casual laborers, have lost their jobs as a result.
TRIDI has pointed fingers at the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MoSTI) for hindering the project’s progress, resulting in economic losses and wasted investments.
According to Mr. Robson Aine, the director of monitoring and evaluation at TRIDI, MoSTI suspended funding and requested the project to scale down to only two districts, contrary to their initial agreement. Parliament had allocated Shs43 billion for sericulture development in 24 districts in the Financial Year 2022/2023 to support the project’s objectives, but the funds were withheld by the ministry.
Dr. Monica Musenero, the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovations, denied allegations of sabotaging the project and stated her commitment to fighting corruption and promoting competence.
The project aimed to promote silkworm production and their by-products with government funding. Silkworms are used to create natural protein fibers for textiles.
Mr. Emma Walimbwa, the head of partnership and capacity development at TRIDI, noted that they needed to establish 24 silkworm rearing houses but were unable to do so due to the lack of released funds.
Mr. Martin Nambale, the project supervisor for Bulambuli, urged the government to release the funds to prevent further interruptions and loss of resources, especially the mulberry gardens that feed silkworms.
Mr. Emmanuel Masaba Sabunyo criticized the government for failing the project, questioning how innovation could be promoted when ministers were allegedly hindering innovators.
Mr. Aine emphasized that the project had never faced any audit queries and outlined the various initiatives and constructions that were halted due to the funding suspension.
The Parliamentary Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovations presented a report highlighting the challenges faced by the sericulture project, revealing that a significant portion of the invested funds had been wasted.
The silkworm project had received financial support from President Museveni’s innovation fund since its inception in the Financial Year 2017/2018. However, the committee expressed disappointment with the stalled progress during a visit to projects in Kween and Bulambuli districts.
Expensive machines procured for the project in Kween and Sheema districts remain unused due to the government’s failure to release the funds.
Currently, the project is being implemented in 24 districts across the country, aiming to boost silkworm production and the silk industry.