By CAES Communication Team

Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa interacting with the principal college of Agricultural and Dr. Sebaggala

With support from the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (MAK-RIF) the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has held the 2nd policy seminar on rural Development.

The seminar held at the school of Food Technology Nutrition and Bio-engineering was conducted under the topic; Agro Industrialisation in the context of Rural Development in Uganda.

Officiated by the former Agriculture Minister Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa, the seminar was attended by Researchers, policy makers and advisors across the country.

It was moderated by the Principal CAES Prof. Bernard Bashasha, with participants both physical and virtual.

The presenters included Martin Fowler the Senior Agricultural Adviser USAID Uganda and Jacob Rauschendorfer the Country economist Bank of Uganda also at the International Growth Centre.

Martin Fowler the Senior Agricultural Adviser USAID Uganda noting some important points during the seminar

While Making a presentation titled, the current status, future prospects and possible solutions to pressing challenges by Martin Fowler and Jacob Rauschendorfer, the two observed that covid-19 had a great impact on Uganda despite the fact that aagriculture was declared an essential service with so much uninterrupted.

According to the presentation, during the period, there has been a reduction in turnover and sales of 30% seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals, vet drugs whereas raw materials’ supply to processors from out-growers were negatively affected.

The presentation also indicated that Lack of data on COVID’s impacted on SMEs, “they are more generally clear that they are a critical force in the economy but remain vulnerable”

The presentation also recommended focus on value chain observing an Urgent need to rationalise and prioritise the value-chains that are to form the focus of future national agro-industrialization efforts.

They also recommended that governments’ role in fostering agro-industrial sector growth needs to be defined and respected to ensure increased budgetary support required for a more-enabling environment including, electricity grid expansion, land tenure security among others.

Dr Kisamba Mugerwa making his presentation during the seminar

While officiating during the seminar, the former minister for agriculture Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa called for coordination of all the policies related to Agriculture along the value chain.

He observed the need to increase production, marketing and processing noting that increasing productivity requires concentrated areas of production in order to ease marketing.

“We need to invest in research, extension, water for production, marketing and processing, “he said

Due to lack of institutional arrangement and coordination Kisamba observed that Ugandans dive into a lot of things but fail to implement them.

“For instance, we have NARO, which is known for doing very well but they are not funded to capacity, you find that we have more board members supervising fewer scientists yet we need to invest more among scientists to have programs of our own, “he said.

He reported that most of the programs under NARO are foreign funded by development partners emplacing the need to set our own priorities

“We scraped NAADS and thought we would go back to extension, but the general extension is nowhere to be seen, they are not facilitated and don’t have demonstration kits. We are creating more districts which over stretches them because we have to budget for it and formulate a legal framework under which to operate “he said.

Currently he noted that agro processing is the only way to go, saying we can’t go into primary production without adding value but continue importing what has been exported.

“We have instant coffee but instead of promoting BUBU people are still buying Nescafe

I think we still have a lot to do from a Nationalistic point of view in promoting agro-industrialization, “he said

Regarding the Emyooga Funds, Kisamba who is also the vice chancellor Ndejje University said that it is a very good undertaking since it will be remaining with people in local areas as their bank to be lent to the members.

He challenged members of the different associations to invest into something which can generate income to enhance their development.           

The principal investor Dr Rosemary Isoto making a presentation during the seminar

Dr. Rose Mary Isoto the project PI stated that the policy process is an initiative funded by the government under MAK-RIF.

“We invite the researchers policy makers and advisors to interface and share the research outputs and hopefully be able to use in the implementation of policies, “she said

Some of the research findings she said indicate lack of agriculture data on agricultural productivity with recommendation of streamlining the different value chain to ensure realisation of more output.

She said, “Dr. Kisamba was able to give his view and experience and share the policy implications looking forward to other researchers sharing their research output which will help to improve policy processes and implementation in Uganda”.

“Agro -industrialization is one of the areas which is being focused on by the NDP 3 which is guiding the country. it is an important area because most of what is being produced if not consumed ends up being wasted, so we are saying, why don’t we add value to something which is going to create employment for most of our youths, “she said.

Some of the challenges highlighted during her presentation hindering agro-industrialisation was lack of financing, staffing and infrastructure which is needed to improve industrialization in Uganda.

She observed that a lot of financial institutions do not want to fund agriculture which also extends to agro-industrialization noting that if micro finance institutions and the banks are able to fund activities related to agro-industrialization, this will boost the sector very much.

“Infrastructure is what is needed for agro-industrialization, look at the roads, machinery and the capacity, this is very important in improving agro-industrialization in the country, “she re echoed.

The research according to Isoto highlighted issues of streamlining value chains saying they are now targeting ten crops and refocusing on others to ensure that in instances of drought, change can be mastered

“One of the recommendations was refocusing on value chains, financing and ensuring improved infrastructure and data. The issue of data came out clearly that there is a lack of agricultural data which can guide in decision making, “she said.

Dr Kisamba Mugerwa interact with the Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Prof. Bernard Bashaasha

The Principal College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences CAES Prof Bernard Bashaasha said the college is doing all what it takes to contribute to the national development processes.

“Some of the projects we come up with, produce information that is not known to guide the business community and the private sector to make money whereas some innovations are to help farmers and communities to improve their incomes, “he said.

He observed that the new policy on agro-industrialization still has a lot of gaps with room for improvement.

“We don’t think that those that are seated on the policy formulation have all the answers, there are still gaps of which we are helping in addressing, “the Principal said

He observed that agriculture is multi-sectoral, falling under every Ministry saying there is a need to know the institutional arrangement to understand where the new policy can be suited.

One of the Participants deliberating during the policy seminar at Food Science

“Under the agro-industrialization, issues of human resource capacity, institutional arrangement, under capacity utilization all have to be looked into giving an example of factories not processing to capacity observing the need to identify remedies of how to ensure usage up to capacity.

Bashaasha cited Soroti fruit factory which is currently operating to capacity saying if Agro-industrialisation is to be achieved, affordable Energy has to be available to help in managing production.

“Issues of land and land tenure, resources to manage production, human resource, affordable energy among others have to be looked into critically.

Our role is not to criticize but to add value and support those who are formulating policies so that they can work towards an informed view to ensure improvement of our people, “he said.

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