Hon. Tress Bucyanayandi, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries started his speech by emphasised that agriculture is the most important sector in Ugandan economy. He stated that out of a population of 34 million people, agriculture employs 4.5 million directly in farming and another 2.5 million people engaged in other various agriculture related activities. And more than 77% of the population is engaged in this sector. He was happy to report that agriculture’s performance grew by 3% over the previous year. He reported that the Ugandan government has a target of raising a family’s income to about 20million UgShs per family per year, which is achievable if some enterprise routes are exploited.
In the agro-processing sector, the Minister pointed out that most of the cotton is exported raw instead of being processed in final textile which would add value to the exported product. And some of this crop could be processed into animal feeds or oil. He added that Uganda produces the best coffee which can be roasted in Uganda and turn it in a finished product. Arabica coffee could be brought in to supplement Uganda’s production, standing now at 15% Arabica and 85% Robusta. Cocoa is coming up significantly in Uganda and again investors are invited to take advantage of the value addition opportunities by converting cocoa into by-products like chocolate.
In the area of fruits and vegetables, the Minister said that Uganda’s pineapples and other fruits are some of the sweetest and that there is vast opportunities as the international market is demanding fresh and dried fruits. On floral culture, he advised investors to look at growing other types of flowers where again the market offers big opportunities.
Due to the rising population in the region and Uganda, producing cereals and grain foods are some of the best opportunities because the raw product can be converted into animal feeds and also food for human consumption.
In the dairy sector ,he reported a tremendous increase in the output where 1.8 billion litres of milk annually were produced, with potential for growth. Milk coolers and abattoirs for processing meat for export especially to the middle east market are one of those the Minister advised immediate investments in.
The Minister advised people to start looking at manufacturing and producing fish using fish cages and ponds as the demand is extremely high all over the world. Uganda used to earn more than $183 million from exports but the figures are not promising due to low investment in the sector.
He mentioned the success story of Uganda and Nile breweries, leading in the growing of barley and sorghum to produce beer. Kinyara sugar works is reaching out to commercial sugar growers to help farmers benefit especially during this time when Uganda produces less sugar. And he advised investors to look at investing in sugar cane farming as the regional demand is high.
He further said that Uganda can’t increase productive by using the old manual methods. Machinery and innovative commercial technology and know-how is needed in the country to increase productivity. He advised on investors to come and start a tractor hire service as many people can’t afford to buy their own tractor but can afford to hire at a reasonable cost.
The seed industry is another sector the Minister quoted, disclosing that only 15% of Uganda’s seed is improved, offering great opportunities to improve this figure.
Regarding fertilisers, Uganda does not even use 1 kilogram of fertilisers per hectare per year. . Phosphates and lime can be exploited to produce fertilisers, as well as derivatives of the oil industry and other minerals .
He further reported that though Uganda has a good climate, commercial irrigation is still needed to support commercial farming.
He finally informed delegates that Uganda needs investment in agro-processing urgently because the industry will not grow without adding value to raw products. The country needs to sustain the production for its fast growing population and be able to supply the local and regional food demand. It also needs to increase the shelf life of finished products. Lastly, he advised people to take advantage of minimum and tax exemption on agro-processing and machineries as reported by Jolly K. Kaguhangire from the Uganda Revenue Authority.
He concluded his speech by thanking Mr. Willy Mutenza and his team for inviting him with his team to the Convention and encouraged him to persuade delegates to go and invest in Uganda and take advantage of the peace, good climate and incentives given to investors.