Hon Frank Tumwebaza giving his opening remarks at the symposium
The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze, has commended the agricultural industrial players for their efforts in financing research and the establishment of critical partnerships that have enabled increased production.
According to Frank Tumwebaze, the National Agricultural Research Organization’s collaborations with the commercial sector have given regular farmers more access to a variety of services and technology while also bridging the gap between scientists and farmers. “It’s through these partnerships that we are able to access the revolving technologies, access them to the farmers, but also help pull all the efforts for improved services and production,” he said.
This while speaking at the farmers’ symposium organized by Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) at Hotel Africana Kampala on the 28th September 2022. UBL is one of the largest industries in Uganda that is sourcing locally produced local materials for industry, with barley, cassava, apples and corn being among them.
To this partnership between NARO and UBL, the honorable minister noted that it’s through the such partnerships, farmer groups have been able to not only create capacity for bulking, processing, and marketing but also increase production. “Increased access and utilization of important technologies would close all the industrial gaps, support growth in production, and influence the market.” He added.
He stated that the Ministry is creating sub-sector policies that would draw more fervent support to the farmer groups and enable them to produce on a large scale, noting that cassava production has significantly increased in the North and Eastern parts of the country as a result of research and coordinated efforts by the players.
NARO’s Deputy Director General in charge of Agricultural Technology Promotion, Dr Sadiq Kassim, says such partnerships with large agricultural consumers have enabled the organization to build synergies with the farmers and also build capacity for the farmers in bulking, production, processing, and marketing. He added that several farmers can now have access and utilize important technologies, thus closing the gaps in the industry. “These partnerships have increased access and utilization of modern technologies among the farmers, a fact that speaks to increased volumes of production and marketing.” He noted.
Dr. Kassim called on the government to work on enacting sub-sector policies that would enable the harnessing of factors of production, an issue that would go a long way in improving the welfare of farmers, reducing poverty and improving the tax regime.
Andrew Kironzo, the Managing Director of Uganda Breweries, decried the low levels of farmer trust, which has set the industry back to a low pace of development. He says the brewery accesses inputs from the farmers, but they end up smuggling the produce while on the farm, which creates a huge trust gap between the two parties.
“These farmers make the produce go through the fence at the farm instead of going out through the gate. This affects our targets as production goes down and we fail to achieve our objectives. ” He informed the participants.
He said at least 60% of the breweries’ value chain is controlled by farmers at virtually all levels, especially in cassava and sorghum and added that in a period of ten years, the UBL has invested at least US $10 million in the production of corn, barley, cassava, sorghum and apples in the country, especially in the areas of research, bulking with farmers and quality control. UBL has also financed a baseline survey on apple growing and production especially in Kigezi region, in South Western Uganda although farmers are yet to embrace the initiative. Only about 12 farmers have embraced apple growing in the region, but are scattered in the different districts of Rubanda, Rukiga, Kabale and Rukungiri.