TOP
Sunday,August 09,2020 15:40 PM

Govt to focus on food crops for the regional market

By Prossy Nandudu

Added 15th August 2017 12:05 PM

Selected food items include Maize, Rice, Beans, and Cassava which are mainly consumed in the region. The ministry also plans to include bananas, added Okaasai.

Govt to focus on food crops for the regional market

Cassava processing is one way of adding value. Photo by Prossy Nandudu

Selected food items include Maize, Rice, Beans, and Cassava which are mainly consumed in the region. The ministry also plans to include bananas, added Okaasai.

Ministry of agriculture has prioritized food crops that can be marketed in the East African Community (EAC), as a way of positioning Uganda as a regional food basket.

The commodities include food crops where Uganda has a comparative advantage over others. This was revealed by the director crop resources in the ministry, Okasaai Opolot in an interview at his office in Entebbe.

Selected food items include Maize, Rice, Beans, and Cassava which are mainly consumed in the region. The ministry also plans to include bananas, added Okaasai.

"We are looking at staple foods because Uganda is privileged to be having two rainy seasons that favour the production of the selected crops which makes it a regional food basket," he said.

He adds that through the regional food balance, sheet, the ministry is aware of the regional food demands which give a clear direction of production.

To ensure that the selected commodities meet the demands of the market, strategic interventions in processing to add value and marketing are being considered by the ministry.

"We know the demand and the level of production needed. We are confident that if we streamlined mainly through post-harvest handling, meet  grain standards, streamline the marketing, turn informal marketing to formal, Uganda will benefit more," added Okasaai.

Available information shows that Kenya, S.Sudan, DR Congo are food deficit countries which presents an opportunity for Uganda to consolidate her position as a food basket in the region.

He however adds that the promotion of food crops is in addition to other cash crops like cocoa, tea, cotton in addition to coffee, which is still the principal traditional export.

"But the most important thing is value addition of food crops, because all food crops can go into the international market if we added value like cassava by making starch and ethanol, maize by making cornflakes among others," Okasaai added.

Evidence for demand?

According to USAID's Feed the Future programme, staple foods such as maize, wheat, rice, beans, millet, potatoes, and cassava are the fastest growing set of commodities in agricultural trade in eastern and southern Africa, with an estimated annual value of $50 billion.

This represents 75 per cent of total agricultural products traded adding that regional markets in East Africa opens opportunities to balance regional supply and demand, opening up opportunities and incentives to increase productivity.

These are sometimes affected by factors such as weather; infrastructure; policies; and local, short-term changes in supply and demand.

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author