By: Ismael Kasooha
The Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has asked farmers to strive to add value to their produce if they are to benefit from agriculture.
Nabbanja made the remarks on Sunday while presiding over the first smallholder farmer’s exhibition that was held at Kasana grounds in Mubende Municipal Council in Mubende District.
Nabbanja thanked the organizers of this exhibition for supplementing government efforts in ensuring the attainment of commercial agriculture in the country.
Nabbanja said that such exhibitions were important because they provided a platform for farmers and researchers to interact and share experiences and new technologies.
“There is a Luganda Saying that goes ‘Okutambula Kulaba, Okudda Kunyumya, but this has changed to Okutambula kulaba okudda Kukola’. Literally meaning that they have to put into practice the knowledge gained from the exhibition so that they don’t stop at seeing and touring but use the technology to transform yourselves,” she said.
Nabbanja noted from the guided tour of the stalls that a number of technologies are important in promoting commercial agriculture in the region and the country in general.
“These technologies are good but should not remain on paper or in laboratories but take them to the farmers who are supposed to benefit from such interventions,” said the premier.
She said that the Government wants to ensure farmers benefit from their sweat through value addition.
The Premier said that the government had put in place an enabling environment so that farmers can access both local and regional markets.
“Now that the EAC is a seven-member Partner State strong regional bloc, with a population of over 280million, the challenge of the market for our products is no more. Let us increase production and productivity to tap into the available market,” said Nabbanja.
She said that the NRM government had identified four sectors for jobs and wealth creation which included Commercial agriculture, Industrialization, Services and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Nabbanja said that government through the Ministry of Agriculture developed several interventions to improve household incomes and food security through addressing challenges such as High incidence of pests and diseases, Poor crop management practices, Limited access to high quality inputs, Limited access to land for production, inadequate processing and handling capacity and lack of capital.
She said that the Parish Development model PDM was providing the much needed capital to small holder farmers so that they can start commercial agriculture.
The Premier said that using the four-acre model for example, coffee, on one acre, can earn Ush18 million, fruits Ush12 million and milk Ush8 million and with poultry and piggery, the sky was the limit.
“With the four fish ponds at Kawumu, on half an acre, the earning is Ush64 million per year. This is the first rescue plan for the concerned families, but also for the country, especially those who still have four acres of land,” she emphasized.
The Members of Parliament from Mubende led by Hajji Bashir Lubega expressed concern on some issues affecting farmers such as fake chemicals and inputs on the market and asked the government to intervene.
“If there is anything that the government needs to act immediately on, it is the challenge of fake chemicals and pesticides on the market. How do they find their way into the country yet there are institutions meant to regulate such,” Wondered Lubega.
Responding to concerns raised by the leaders the Prime Minister assured the farmers that the government through UNBS had instituted measures to deal with the challenges.
The Mayor Mubende Municipality Engineer Ssekizivu Innocent thanked the NRM government for the support extended to Mubende that had seen the Municipality develop and become clean.
The first small-holder farmer’s exhibition ran under the theme “Increasing productivity and usage of Technology” and was sponsored by Post Bank Uganda in conjunction with Natiggo Farm Consult.
The farmers requested the government to earmark a farmers’ national day in Uganda so that their contribution could be recognized.
The best farmer was given a prize of one Brand New Motorcycle.