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Agribusiness development vital in Uganda's National Development Plan

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th July 2014 06:47 PM

The ongoing preparations for the revision of National Development Plan come with increased expectations of core sectoral adjustments and improvements by the Government.

The ongoing preparations for the revision of National Development Plan come with increased expectations of core sectoral adjustments and improvements by the Government.

trueBy Solomon Kalema Musisi

The ongoing preparations for the revision of National Development Plan come with increased expectations of core sectoral adjustments and improvements by the Government.

The agricultural sector, among others, will be a major target and, therefore, the need to meet target accomplishments of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture, which in my view, would be more effectively met through agribusiness development.

The Central Government has the financial potential and quality human resource to implement detailed section of the plan targeting full value chain development of the existing crop and animal resources against an overall objective of meeting the livelihood needs, employment and national food security.

The intervention of Government to introduce taxes on agricultural inputs is currently highly criticised by some in both public and private sector.

However, other forms of Government intervention in agribusiness at production, processing, pricing as well as market level would add a lot to historical agricultural sector interventions by the Government such as the four year national Tea Rehabilitation Programme between 1986 and 1990, which together with the five year Smallholder Tea Development Programme by the European Union from 1990 to 1995 rejuvenated a crop which had been greatly affected by the expulsion of the Asians by General Idi Amin Dada during the 1970’s impeding tea production from 1974 to 1985.

The neglect of this particular value chain would have hindered benefits from Tea, which from scientific study by researchers in the field is a major requirement in reducing risk of Parkinson’s disease, heart attack, neurological and cardiovascular diseases and enhancing sugar processing in people with Type 2 diabetes along with maintaining healthy state of the brain parts in charge of regulating learning and memory and this shows how vital it is for the government and other stakeholders to keep track of sector dynamics of agribusiness in the country.

To benefit many smallholder farmers, promotion of cassava as a cash crop that is cost effective due to minimal requirement for fertilizers and pesticides should be boosted.

Cassava is also drought resistant and, therefore, relatively dependable during the climate change which is now a global issue with the associated effects such as desertification and famine that could affect many parts of the country.

The revolutionary initiatives under President Museveni’s tenure to boost traditional crop enterprises like Banana’s have had a positive contribution to earnings and increased returns for local farmers across the country.

Similarly, pointing out traditional processing and preservation methods with the aim of improving their competitiveness would benefit the sector as well if undertaken by the Government in partnership with stakeholders like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO.

An example of a beneficiary in that respect is Ghana where the FAO effectively adapted, re-designed and disseminated the traditional fish smoking oven, the Chorkor, making it more fuel-efficient and thereby easing the working conditions and cost of doing business for the women who smoke fish in Ghana.

Economic policy research regarding the agribusiness operations, import-export relations, standards and technologies will be vital in enhancing agribusiness development in the country, if more is done in promoting Uganda-based researchers, agricultural scientists and economists to up their training and skills.

Enhancing the capacity of agricultural extension service providers both from within and without the Government structures so as to realise the costs, benefits and underlying social implications of government interventions in agriculture through feedback from farmers at the grassroots of the sector could as well be a vital appraisal method for analysts, related ministries and the Parliamentary committees in charge of follow-up of the performance in achieving that section of the National Development Plan.

The writer is the Director Agribusiness and Investments
Youth Development Platform Uganda

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