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Museveni: Agriculture Key for Uganda’s Economic Transformation

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help thumb http://dcointl.com/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-comments-list-table.php geneva; line-height: 150%; font-size: small;”>In a State-of-the-nation address at Kampala Serena Hotel on Thursday, Museveni said “anybody wishing to generate wealth, create self employment, employ others or access employment has no alternative but choose one of these four. The four sectors are: Agriculture, Industry, Services and ICT.”


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Emphasizing that the national address is not a mere constitutional ritual as some people may want to perceive it but accountability on particular Government commitments since the last State of the Nation Address, Museveni ensured his speech gave a broader picture concentrating on the four “basic priority sectors for wealth creation and access to employment. ”

Museveni said while the Ugandan economy continues to be vibrant amidst economic challenges and reforms on the local, regional and International scene, commercial agriculture remains key to socio-economic transformation of Uganda especially the rural areas.


“Agriculture is in two parts. There is the commercial and plantation farming. The commercial farming still has got challenges such as the high costs of inputs, the under-development of water for agriculture, the low use of fertilizers and poor management skills by the farmers themselves,” said Museveni.


“What is decisive for any enterprise to prosper, apart from the entrepreneur, is the market ? the buyer. If enough people do not buy from you, you cannot continue to produce. That is why I am always careful to recommend to the farmers only crops and livestock products that have got a big internal, regional and international markets.”


The President emphasized that the global demand for coffee is 149.1 million bags at the value of US$ 13.6 billion unprocessed and 32 billion processed; the value of tea is US$ 11.4 billion with a total demand of 4 million tonnes; the total value of milk and milk products is US$ 32.8 billion with the total quantities of 730 million tonnes; etc.


Museveni observed that these are values of these products as materials, not as finished products.


“If something has got a low global demand, we should know the consequences of encouraging the farmers to flock into it. Therefore, the leaders and the farmers should know that these products of our agriculture must compete regionally and globally because that is where the big market is,” advised Museveni.


In order to compete, said the President, Uganda’s prices and quality must be competitive.


Uganda’s agricultural sector has been lagging behind due to lack of information and guidance on the part of prospective farmers.


Others attribute the poor performance to a shift in attitude, with majority of youth preferring white collar jobs thus leaving farming to the old and weak.


Museveni pointed out that having looked at the global prices, Uganda should, then, work backwards and see how she can reduce costs and improve yields in order to improve profit margins within the market determined international prices.


“As a farmer, it is good enough for me that somebody is buying my milk and my beef. At one time, we had nobody buying our milk because the milk being consumed in the towns was coming from outside,” recalled the President.

Milk

“We are now dominating the milk sales in Uganda and also exporting to the entire East African region, Nigeria, Mauritius, the Middle East and, also, India and the United States, etc. What I have said is true of bananas, etc. The relevant Government departments must, accordingly, firmly regulate these products. Otherwise, if our quality is compromised, we shall be ruined. We cannot afford a bad reputation within Uganda and outside of poor quality products on account of poor regulation.”

Museveni said the agricultural sector grew by 1.5 percent per annum this financial year in spite of several challenges.


“As I keep telling you, the agriculture of Uganda is still handicapped by the 68 percent of the households that were still in subsistence farming according to the census of 2002. If all these homesteads were converted to commercial farming, the size of agriculture would be much bigger,” he advised.


“In the Manifesto of 1996, the NRM put forward a four acres plan for these homesteads that have got that size of land. Using the yardstick of the financial returns per acre per annum and of sufficiently large global demand mentioned above, we recommended the following enterprises: clonal coffee ? one acre; fruits (oranges, mangoes and pineapples) ? one acre; bananas or any other food crop (cassava, Irish potatoes or upland rice) ? one acre; and elephant grass for zero-grazing Friesian cattle ? one acre. On these, you should add poultry for layers of eggs and pigs as backyard activities. These do not require much land. Those near the swamps should engage in fish farming. Many can participate in apiary for honey.”


Museveni said in some areas, people can grow tea.


“With 3 acres of tea, one can get about Ug. Shs 13.5million per annum. In the case of those with less land than the four acres, there is the option of mushroom growing as well as vegetable growing in addition to poultry and piggeries. In the case of the latter two (poultry and piggery), you would use animal food bought from the others. With one room-full of mushrooms, using shelves one on top of the other, you would earn Ug. Shs. 20 million per annum. One acre of onions would give you Shs. 24.8 million per annum; an acre of tomatoes would give you Shs. 14 million per acre per annum; an acre of cabbages would give you Shs. 20 million per acre per annum. The global demand of mushrooms is 3.5 million tonnes, valued at US$10 billion.”

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