KAMPALA – President Yoweri Museveni this week discouraged the growing of rice in swamps saying the practice endangers the environment.
The President made the remarks as he opened the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo. The 3-day conference has coincided with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – China South-South Cooperation Programme. The conference is being attended by delegations from 10 countries from Africa and overseas.
The Munyonyo meeting offers an opportunity to celebrate achievements registered by the program whose crucial role is to improve nutrition and food security in Africa, showcase the key results and address challenges as well as define a new approach for the future.
President Museveni pointed out that it was acceptable for water to be pulled from the swamp for rice growing in the upland areas or apply irrigation but not growing rice directly in the swamps. He told conference participants, who included a high powered delegation from China, that Uganda was the right place to promote cooperation in the agricultural sector as the weather is very conducive being on high elevation right on the Equator.
“When it comes to agriculture and you come to Uganda you are in the right place where crops grow easily. Combining latitude and altitude with water, Uganda is an ideal place for crops,” he said.
The President asked delegates to promote and propagate to the whole world the growth of indigenous crops that are more nutritious like millet that has all the three ingredients of proteins, carbohydrates, and iron. He also cited other areas with the potential for cooperation such as the fisheries industry, livestock, and poultry. He, however, underscored the need for value addition to products for the longevity of their life and removal of impurities.
Solving Market challenges
Mr. Museveni informed the conference that the challenge of markets is being resolved through economic integration. He cited the formation of the Continental Free Trade Area on the African continent as a measure geared addressing the challenge of the market. He called for the diversification of some products that appear to be in a glut on the markets like sugar that could be used in industries for the production of beverages and the making of syrups in pharmaceuticals.
Museveni praises Chinese
The President used the occasion to praise the Government of China for the support to African countries right from the days of anti-colonialism up to now in the development of the continent in several sectors including infrastructure.
“We are very grateful to the Government of China for those friendly actions,” he said.
The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja thanked the Government of China for implementing the South-South Cooperation program in Uganda.
“Through the programme, Uganda has benefited from those projects that include, among others, agronomy, improved rice, and fish culture,” he said.
The Director-General of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China who is the leader of the Chinese Government High Powered delegation, Mr. Yi Yang, thanked President Museveni for supporting Uganda-China Cooperation. He also commended FAO for helping SSC adding that the project aims at helping African countries, especially Uganda, to improve its agricultural practices for improved nutrition and food security.
The Director and Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation, Mr. Jorge Chediek, praised President Museveni for his good leadership that, he said, has been recognized by being selected to host an international conference in April 2020 of the group of 77 countries including China. Delegations from over 135 countries worldwide are expected to attend the conference.
Later, President Museveni witnessed the signing of 2 Memoranda of Understanding: the first being for the Tripartite Agreement for the Third Phase of the FAO-China SSC Programme in Uganda whose signatories included the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Hon. Vincent Ssempijja signed on behalf of the Government of Uganda and Mr. Yi Yang, the Director of Foreign Economic Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs who signed on behalf of the Government of China. Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General of the Regional Office for Africa signed the MOU on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The second MOU on Agricultural Cooperation between Sichuan Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China and the Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. Mr. Yang Xiu Bin, member of the Chinese delegation signed on behalf of his Government and Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Permanent Secretary, Mr. Pius Wakabi Kasajja, on behalf of the Government of Uganda.