MBARARA —The Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) in Uganda Gen Caleb Akandwanaho alias Salim Saleh, has on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the way farmers are sidelined, in reaping the benefits of the agricultural value chain.
Gen Saleh expressed this discontent during the Uganda/Greater Ankole Investment Symposium’, whose officiating he oversaw, at Kakyeka playground, Mbarara city. The two day event is conducted under the auspices of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), and Uganda Development Bank (UDB).
In his speech, Gen Saleh spoke bluntly to the congregation, and argued that farmers sit at the bottom of the beneficiaries of the value chain because they’re highly sidelined and cheated, when it comes to enjoying the final benefits of their sweat.
He highlighted a clear illustration on how farmers are cheated by other actors in his book titled, “Who and Where is the Farmer in the Power Relations in the Agriculture Sector”.
In this book, General Saleh defined Power as the ability to influence action and intention of others actors, and said farmers find themselves powerless, in their struggles to attain jutice and equality, when it comes to realising the fruits of their work, as compared to others in the Agricultural sector.
“He produces, but when the harvesting of the money comes, it is eaten by the exporter, the processor, the traders, your commercial officers because they get money from those licences, then MAIF agencies, i think they get money through their salaries, i dont know how they get their money, the farmer gets 2%. Thats the power in the processing, even the processors cheat the farmer,” Gen Saleh complained.
He therefore urged farmers to do everything in their reach, access and read his book. This, according to him would increase their awareness, such that they increase their power at all levels and processes in the agricultural sector, vital for their liberation from this kind of exploitation.
The participants in the symposium have been drawn from political, business, academia and civil society leadership from 13 districts, making up the Sub Ankole region.
“We value our partnership with UDB, local government, political and civic leaders as it helps deliver practical and real solutions through a consultative and deliberate process that also impiments president Yoweri Museveni agenda, and government policies to revive the economy,” added Saleh.
According to the main organisers UDB, the symposium shall contribute to generating viable actions and place greater Ankole on a sustainable path to a vibrant economy, that is the essential part of the regional and national economy.
“Stakeholder engagement and mobilisation remain crucial in the advancement of government innitiatives to realise the much needed benefit for the people of Uganda. As UDB, we are very deliberate about growing stakeholder value and financing key growth sectors of the economy while ensuring efficiency of the operations. This is one of the reasons why we have committed ourselves fully to this symposium, Said Ms Patricia Ojangole, Managing Director of UDB, while delivering her keynote address.
The symposium is the first of the four planned investment symposiums this year in four sub- regions, through which government aims to bring together investors from different regions to showcase, discuss and explore the investment environment in Uganda, emerging market opportunities, and to address challenges that investors face.
The next symposium will be hosted in Busoga region.
The Uganda investment symposium concept was launched in 2019 with the inuagural symposium held in West Nile region, and a subsequent one held in Rwenzori sub-region. Organisation of the symposiums was interrupted with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The symposium, part of an on-going series in conjunction with the Operation Wealth Creation and other partners, is intended to bring together a cohort of key actors in the economy and enhance collaboration, coordinated thinking while promoting business opportunities, and investment at the local and regional level.
To support the special categories of people, UDB recently launched a special program to give quick access to financing SME’s focusing on youth, and women led enterprises with reduced documentation and more tailred security requirements.
The two-day event will also identify business opportunities in the region, host business engagements and convene leading local and national leaders to explore practical solutions to enable growth and recovery.