KAMPALA – Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with MasterCard Foundation-Young Africa Works in Uganda, hosted a dialogue to address the rising wheat and opportunities for Import replacement along the Wheat Value chain under the theme: “Rising wheat prices: opportunities for import replacement.”
The dialogue comes at a time when wheat prices in the country are on the rise as result of rise in fuel prices as well as the Russia-Ukraine war which hiked cost of importation of wheat, affecting the bakery and confectionary industry.
Despite the current challenge, this presents an opportunity for innovation especially regarding domestic production of wheat substitutes such as cassava and matooke have been unveiled. The dialogue therefore aimed to identify what opportunities for innovation, especially in regard to domestic production of wheat or increased production of wheat flour substitutes such as cassava and matooke, Uganda can exploit in the face of the current crisis.
Enhancing Lead Firm Structure for Youth Employment Program, a Youth Africa Works project being implemented by Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with Mastercard Foundation (MCF), has also intervened in efforts to promote the substitution of wheat in investments of farmers, traders, processors, importers, and service providers. The Intervention’s ultimate goal is to create dignified and fulfilling work for young women and men and contribute to the effort of lifting Ugandans out of poverty. Through the dialogue held, the project, alongside policy makers, was able to seek guidance from the business community to enable them lay capital as well as solutions from the different stakeholders on how to overcome the crisis.
“We are the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda and our job is to bring together the private sector of Uganda, work with them, support them and intervene on their behalf. Our dream is to have a clear platform where we have with all players and when one of us has issues, we can come together to overcome the challenge. Today is for us to listen to each other, exchange views, hear from the different approaches, to learn who needs what. So that when we have this platform I am talking about, we as PSFU can serve as an information hub for anyone who needs it,” Says Victoria Sssekitoleko – Chair Agriculture, Agribusiness sector, PSFU.
“We are giving you time to talk to us. Tel us the problems you are facing how best we can solve them, also tell us what you want and how you want it done, we have the same goal so let’s work together towards it. There is need for a focus group to sit and have this discussion,” she added.
“The current wheat crisis has sent me smiling for cassava, especially in the face of the current wheat prices. A lot of work is going on globally, a lot of research is being done and now we know what cassava can do. Let us take a leaf from Nigeria, it is the biggest cassava producer in Africa. They were spending billions of dollars importing wheat and decided they had to cut their imports by 30% in five years. That would save them a lot of money. What they did was to put a levy on wheat import and the income from that levy was used to finance the cassava growing program,” Prof Otim Nape George William – Managing Director, Wind wood Millers.
“If you told someone that their chapati is made of cassava, they will tell you ‘this is not what I have asked for, give me chapati’. We need to create awareness about this for the average Ugandan consumer. It makes it easier for people to buy in hence easing the value chain. The client will demand, we will demand, and the farmers will benefit but we need that awareness,” says Asha Batenga CEO Cake Shop.