By Nicholas Kajoba
The Government is to support rural farmers engaged in value addition in order to boost their incomes, Tress Bucanayandi, the agriculture minister, has said.
Bucanayandi said this during the strategic exit workshop for the great Lakes Project organised by Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO), at Protea Hotel, Kampala on Thursday.
The five year $5.9m project which commenced in 2007 is geared at improvement of food security in Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda was implemented through FAO under the global food security and trust fund.
He said the Government has funded many projects such as NAADs that are geared at supporting the modernisation and commercialisation of the agriculture sector.
“We worked with Community Based Organisations and Non-Government Organisations to train farmers in commercial farming and even micro-finance institutions have played big role of availing funds to our farmers,” he said.
Buchanayande said most rural farmers lack the capacity to carry out activities like commodity chain value addition and marketing.
He hailed firms and individuals, especially those in the agriculture sector, for marketing farmers’ produce both internally and abroad.
He advised farmers to form cooperative groups in order to easily access funding from the Government and financial institutions.
The Great Lakes Project manager, Patricia Nsiime, said commodities such as sweet potatoes, mangoes and pineapples were selected in Kabale, Kisoro and Kasese.
Nsiime said the main objective included promotion and support to market-oriented production, marketing and value addition, plus strengthening of agribusiness linkages.
Under the dairy value chains, farmers in areas of Rubuguri, Kisoro transformed into cooperative groups and have increased their membership from 128 to 152.
“FAO has helped in the establishment of a milk collection centre by providing a milk cooler with capacity of 3,000 litres to Birunga Dairy farmers. Under Birunga Dairies Industries, the milk processor would help to market the farmer’s milk through the additional value chain,” Nsiime said.
She said the strategy of the Great Lakes governments is to ensure food security, increase income and employment to fight against poverty through modernisation and commercialisation of the agriculture sector.