Azalwa showing locals how to remove a coffee seedling from a polythene paper during the function in Jinja. (Credit: Jackie Nambogga)

Azalwa showing locals how to remove a coffee seedling from a polythene paper during the function in Jinja. (Credit: Jackie Nambogga)

The exercise, spearheaded by mental health community initiative (MHCI), a non-government organization, has embarked on distributing agricultural inputs to counter mental related illnesses in the region.

So far, the organization has donated 100,000 coffee seedlings, 16,000 hand hoes and 100 piglets in Kagoma constituency in Jinja district where the program kicked off.

While handing over the donations to the area MP Fredrick Mbagadhi on Saturday, MHCI?s executive director Fred Mwanja said sensitization awareness on the causes of mental disorders among the community without carrying out preventive measures was not impacting much.

?We deemed it necessary to begin empowering the local communities by giving them agricultural inputs to improve their livelihoods as a measure of eliminating mental disorders among them,? he said at a function held at the Universal Apostles Church of the Righteousness in Buwenge town council .

According to Dr. Emmanuel Mufumba, a psychiatric clinical officer attached to Bugembe Health Centre IV in Jinja district, asset depletion and low productivity can lead to mental disorders.

He explained that farmers and business people depend on both small and huge loans which they solicit from village banks and finance banks to manage their activities but when they begin realizing setbacks, they end up suffering mental disorders.

He said once people have burdens of food security and without resources to sustain themselves and their families, they end up having such disorders.

?Sometimes we hear men abandoning their homes and live behind their families without food and taking their children to schools. It is because of the biting poverty.?

In an interview with New Vision, Dr. Mufumba pointed out that patients who suffer long-standing or chronic mental illnesses can directly cause poverty because their caretakers become unproductive.

Meanwhile, Buwenge assistant town clerk Dickson Azalwa regretted that farmers are cutting down their coffee and cocoa shambas and replacing them with sugarcanes.

Since coffee is one of Uganda?s main cash crops, Azalwa petitioned legislator Mbagadhi to push for a law aimed at punishing farmers who cut down coffee shambas without genuine reason.

During the function, Azalwa taught farmers how to dig the pits and take care of the seedlings as they grow.

Mbagadhi, who in turn distributed the seedlings to the farmers, vowed to table the motion in parliament, saying they needed to restore this crop because it attracts domestic and international market than sugarcanes whose price is unstable.

He said MHCI?s donation was timely ? as it is the rainy season ? saying it would supplement on the government?s ongoing operation of wealth creation in the area.

By Jackie Nambogga, The New Vision

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