Betty Mbazira from Isingiro District was announced the winner, becoming the first woman to win the annual Best Farmer’s competition since it started five years ago.
Betty Mbazira celebrates upon being announced overall winner of Best Farmers’ competition at Vision Group head offices on Friday. Photos by Miriam Namutebi
KAMPALA - Betty Mbazira from Isingiro District has emerged the winner of the 2018 Best Farmer’s Awards, becoming the first woman to win the annual competition since it started five years ago.
After reading her name, she walked to the stage raising her hands in the air in disbelief of what had happened.
“My story is long but with this victory, the sky is the limit,” she said.
“When I go to the Netherlands for the trip, I want to learn more about the different products of milk and how to make a cow that currently gives 10 litres of milk in a day to reach 50 litres.”
She was given a plaque and dummy cheque worth sh50m from dfcu Bank.
The 2nd overall winner, Alosious Lubega from Wakiso District and the third overall, Julius Bataamye from Kamuli district were also handed dummy cheques worth sh30m and sh20m, respectively.
The 2018 Best Farmer’ Competition award winners were unveiled on Friday night at colorful ceremony held the New Vision head-offices in Kampala.
Excitement filled the air as Uganda’s 13 Best Farmers for 2018 were announced.
The colourful ceremony started at around 6:30pm although the guests began arriving as early as 4:00pm. The awarding stage was decorated with fresh ready to harvest bananas, sugarcane, simsim plants, and maize which created a live farm atmosphere at the gala.
Other prominent farmers who hit the top 10 list of winners from the different regions of Uganda were: Patrick Ssekimpi from Luwero district, Deo Mugisa Bunyangabu District, Shamim Napakol Osekeny Bukedea, Moses Kiptala, Kween District, Vincent Ojok Lira District, Faridah Lutale Arua District and Joice Acan from Gulu District.
The three additional winners, recognised in a special category of value addition were David Wamai Manafwa District, John Ruhombe Kamugisha from Kiruhura and Abel Kiddu from Kampala.
According to the project, the 10 winners share sh150m in addition to going for a learning trip to the Netherlands. The amount is divided in a way that sh50m goes to the overall winner, while the 1st and 2nd runners up get sh30m and sh20m, respectively and the remaining seven share equally the remaining sh50m.
The three additional winners in the special value addition category only get an agro study trip to the Netherlands.
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Augustine Mwendya noted that the Best Farmers competition is making significant contribution towards Uganda’s Vision of transforming subsistence farming to commercial agriculture
Representatives from the different sponsors of the Best Farmer competition, who included Koudijs, KLM Airlines, dfcu Bank, the Kingdom of the Netherlands represented by the Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda and Vision Group were present and among those who made brief speeches that confirmed their commitment to continue sponsoring the competitions.
The Netherlands ambassador to Uganda, Henk Jan Bakker, announced that his country will continue to support the competition for the next three years.
“We must strive towards modernising the agricultural sector in Uganda to make it more efficient and effective, transforming it from substance to commercialized agriculture,” Henk said.
In the same vein, dfcu Bank Chief Change and Innovations Officer and Paul van Apeldoorn announced that the sh150m sponsorship from the bank will continue to flow into the project.
“The success of the Best Farmers competition is proof that farming can transform Uganda. Government needs to allocate more resources in the budget to professionalize farming,” Apeldoorn said.
In her speech, Lukia Otema the country director of KLM Airlines noted that the Airline is sponsoring the competitions not only because of making profits but also to build a sustainable society in Uganda.
Vision’s group’s chief executive officer, Robert Kabushenga noted that the Best Farmers competition have done a great deal in creating awareness of the country’s business potential in other countries particularly the Netherlands.
“Before the Best Farmers competitions, Uganda was nowhere in Africa among the countries where Dutch investors wanted to do business but it’s now number four in priority,” he said before thanking the Netherlands embassy for treating the previous groups of Best farmers in a special way while processing their visas.
In her message, the editor in chief of Vision Group, Barbara Kaija, said one of the challenges farming in Uganda is facing today is how to attract youth and women into the sector as the current generation of farmers ages.