By: Ismael Kasooha
The Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja on Tuesday presided over the transfer of the management of Entebbe Botanical Gardens in Entebbe town from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.
This follows a directive by H.E. President Yoweri Museveni to have the management of this facility transferred to the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities. The President directed that Entebbe Botanical Gardens should be upgraded into a modern facility to promote tourism, conservation, education, and research.
The facility was set up in 1898. The Prime Minister asked the two Ministries of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to work together to develop the facility into a modern tourist site and maintain its traditional functions — research and conservation – as directed by the President.
The function was attended by the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Col (Rtd) Tom Butime, Hon. Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, the Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and senior technical officers from the two Ministries.
The Prime Minister and Ministers as well as the other government officials inspected the facility before the handover ceremony. Nabbanja noted that the facility was originally set up to collect plant specimens and information about their uses but now also collects plants for research and conservation.
In addition to these roles, the Prime Minister said the facility should be developed and equipped to facilitate tourism promotion, education, and recreation, among others.
She said the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities is expected to develop a plan for transforming the gardens into a tourist site while maintaining its research and conservation functions.
“You are also expected to upgrade the quality of services and facilities in order to attract more investors who are yearning for new products after the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Prime Minister said. “Establish partnerships both at local and international levels in order to place Entebbe Botanical Gardens on the world map,”
Nabbanja added that the facility is also expected to generate more revenue for the Government. “I direct both Ministries to work closely to ensure the aspirations of H.E. the President is realised without any interruptions,” the Prime Minister said.
Butime said they will manage the gardens in a manner that will facilitate co-existence between tourism and agricultural research.
“Whoever says that research and tourism cannot be handled concurrently is giving misinformation to the nation,” he added. “We shall work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the original purpose of the gardens is not interfered with but also allow tourism to thrive,”
The Director General National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) Dr. Yona Baguma said they are ready to work with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities to facilitate co-existence between agricultural research and tourism.
The Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Conservation and Education Centre Dr. James Musinguzi said they have already developed a master plan to develop the facility into a tourist site in line with the international standards. The facility sits on a 40-hectare piece of land.