RWAKITURA – President Yoweri Museveni has tipped farmers to strive towards the processing of agro products to their finer levels so that they can be used to meet the local industrial demand such as sugar for soft drinks and pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Museveni was speaking to the country especially dairy farmers in a televised address on the latest developments in the sector.
“I am pleased to note that we have got surplus production of milk, bananas, sugarcane, and maize. We should strive to work towards the fine production of finished items like industrial sugar for soft drinks and pharmaceutical needs. We are importing sugar for making syrups. We could process that sugar locally. Uganda imports papers worth US$50 million per annum and yet we can make them locally from sugarcane bagasse,” he said.
Museveni reiterated that Uganda would overcome the importation of refined sugar by ensuring that it is processed locally. He also discouraged the importation of poultry and animal feeds that could be processed locally from the country’s abundant maize resources.
He stressed that the onus is on the people of Uganda to process all products locally before they are exported. He noted that the importation of starch to manufacture medicinal tablets has contributed much to the cost of the tablets although starch can be easily produced in Uganda.
Mr. Museveni urged maize farmers to allow the maize crop to mature fully and dry on stems before harvesting so as to ensure high quality and avoidance of aflatoxins. He informed the meeting that Egypt imports 19.2 million tons of maize while Algeria imports 8.6 million tons of the same produce annually.
He attributed low milk price to lack of a big consumer market adding that Uganda would easily offset the import bill of infant milk formulae if milk produced in the country could be processed locally and get other by-products like yogurt, cheese, and ghee.
Regarding the tea industry, President Museveni directed that no foreign investor should be allowed to import inferior tea seedlings and any other agro-products. He urged tea farmers to take advantage of the big international tea market.
The President assured farmers that the government would supply them irrigation equipment and fertilizers on credit and that the recovery of the cost price of those utilities would be obtained at the time of harvesting. He expressed strong optimism that the revolving agro-fund would help a lot in meeting credit requirements in the agro-based sector.
He used the occasion to warn Agricultural Officers to take their work seriously by advising farmers on issues regarding quality agricultural production.
Regarding dairy farming, the President advised farmers to only keep the indigenous Ankole cows that produce at least 9 litres of milk per animal per day. He noted that exotic cows are able to yield at least 20 litres of milk per animal per day. He stressed the importance of keeping smaller herds of quality cows in order to maximize financial returns from farming activities.
Mr. Museveni emphasized the need to allow only credible institutions to be involved in the importation and supply of quality veterinary drugs.
Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Minister, Bamulangaki Ssempijja, while saluting the President for marketing Ugandan products in and outside the country, commended him for the efforts to acquire agro-machinery. He noted that it would lead to increased production. He also said that licensing only a few quality-conscious companies in the importation of veterinary drugs would assure the country of quality products. He revealed that on the strength of the President’s intervention, Uganda has been granted free exhibition slot of her exports in the United Arab Emirates and China.
The Director of Nyaruzinga Banana project in Bushenyi District, Dr. Florence Isabirye Muranga, revealed that under good management, there is potential for farmers to produce 60 tons of bananas per hectare per annum. She also said that banana flour has better nutritional benefits compared to wheat flour.
Kiruhuura District LC5 Chairperson, Samwiri Migisha Katugunda, revealed that the District outs 60% of the total milk production in Western Uganda. He, however, urged Government to intervene more so that farmers get higher milk prices than is the situation currently whereby they are finding challenges in paying back debts incurred in the process of modernizing their farming activities.
Kanungu District Vice Chairperson, Gad Byomuhangi, reported that tea farmers generated Shs.30 billion in 2019 from the tea industry. He called for government assistance to have more tea processing factories established to meet the increased volume of tea production.