The Agriculture minister, Vincent Sempijja has asked farmers to embrace agriculture mechanization practices to simplify farming and achieve higher yields.
“Many people have large chunks of land but none of them has a bull dozer to ease farming,” said Sempijja, adding that the Government shall soon introduce regional mechanization centres, aimed at transforming agriculture.
“Most of our products are on demand in various markets worldwide.
For example, the Arab market, wants our fruits and cereals.
“Russia, China and the United States, are the other countries with high demand for our products. However, it is sad that we can not produce the quantity they need,” he said.
This was during the flagging off ceremony for 10 winners in the 2017 best farmer competition, organised by Vision Group and sponsored by the Embassy of Netherlands in Uganda, dfcu Bank and KLM Airlines. The event took place at dfcu offices in Nakasero on Thursday evening. The farmers are set to travel on Saturday. The Vision Group Chief Executive Officer, Robert Kabushenga appealed to banks to put in place special loan services for farmers. For instance, mechanisms on quick access to loans, favorable payment periods, among others.
“You may end up making more money if you reduce interest rates on loans for farmers,” he said, adding that most of them need quick loans.
He said one of the things he intends to learn from Netherlands is farm management systems. Henk Jan Bakker, the Dutch Ambassador to Uganda explained that the private sector players in Uganda can only thrive once Government creates an enabling environment for them to operate in. He appealed to farmers travelling to Netherlands to act as mindset change agents in their communities especially to those taking part in agriculture. Jimmy Mugerwa, the dfcu bank’s board chairman applauded Vision Group and partners for their contribution towards agriculture transformation, through organising such farmer competition.
“We as dfcu bank pledge to support and continue supporting these competitions,” he said.
Netherlands farmers’ tour a good move
Anja de Feijter, the chairperson Netherlands-Uganda Trade and Investment Platform (NUTIP) noted that such farmers will learn a lot on mechanization, efficiency and agribusiness management ideas from Netherlands.
Feijter, who is also the executive director Agribusiness Development Centre (ADC) said Uganda has a lot of opportunities in agriculture with its favorable climate and fertile soils but the sector (agriculture) has been contributing less to the economy.
She attributed the issue to use of traditional farming methods, low financial literacy skills and lack of information on available markets for their products.
He noted that once farmers get access to quality inputs coupled with modern farming practices, the contribution of agriculture towards GDP can increase from the current 25%.
“Currently over 70% of Uganda’s population is involved in agriculture but the sector contributes only 25% to GDP. The sector capable of contributing even 50% if farmers get enough access to knowledge in agriculture and quality inputs, ”she stated.