Uganda Agriculture Minister Hon Frank Tumwebaze has rallied the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to have an input into the ministry’s new five-year sector plan and agenda.
Hon Tumwebaze made the remarks during a collaborative meeting with the UN FAO team led by Dr Antonio Querido and Ms Priya Gujadhur, FAO country representative and deputy respectively at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries (MAAIF) headquarters in Entebbe. In the meeting, the FAO team briefed the new sector Minister on the interventions that have been undertaken by FAO in the sector, highlighting successes as well.
Hon Tumwebaze explained to the FAO team that the ministry is keen to fulfil President Museveni’s two major policy directives of turning farming into a commercial sector as well as promoting agro-industrialization.
“He doesn’t want farmers to work for the stomach alone,” he said. “He wants them to get surplus for sale.” To achieve this, Hon Tumwebaze reasoned that farmers have to be linked to research, increase uptake for fertilizers, have proper guidance on enterprise selection as well as zoning, among other things.
On the aspect of agro-industrialization, Hon Tumwebaze said the ministry is prioritizing to improve production and productivity, extension and creating markets, among others. “We believe agro-industrialization can’t hang in the air. It has to be anchored by all of these,” he said. “We are just using 35 per cent of Uganda’s 82 per cent of arable land; so, when you mechanize, you till more land and scale up production.” He said efforts are underway to have at least 19 mechanization centres across Uganda in the next five years.
In response, the FAO team reiterated their support to the Government of Uganda to achieve its agenda through collaborative efforts between the government and the development partners community.
“In the agriculture sphere in the region, Uganda is a vital partner for FAO. We, therefore, look forward to working with you to influence matters and priority areas of concern,” Dr. Antonio Querido said. Meanwhile, Bright Rwamirama, the state minister for Animal Industry, thanked FAO for its continuous support to the sector over the years. “You have been reliable partners and we owe you a lot of appreciation,” he said