I applaud the Vision Group for bringing us together to learn and showcase different products and available resources and technologies for us to advance the agricultural sector in our nation and region.
HARVEST MONEY EXPO MUSEVENI
President Yoweri Museveni has applauded Vision Group for organising the Harvest Money Expo.
In a speech read for him by the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Museveni said agriculture is one of the important sectors for Uganda's economy in terms of employment, food security and wealth creation.
Below is his speech in full:
Hon. Ministers and Ministers of State;
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Hon. Members of Parliament;
The distinguished exhibitors and farmers;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to thank you for organizing the 4th edition of The Harvest Money Expo 2020. I applaud the Vision Group for bringing us together to learn and showcase different products and available resources and technologies for us to advance the agricultural sector in our nation and region.
As you are aware, agriculture is one of the important sectors for Uganda's economy in terms of employment, food security and wealth creation. For example; Agricultural Export earnings rose by 9.6% to US$ 3.93 billion in the period July 2017 to March 2018 from USD 3.59 billion a year earlier.
This increase was mainly on account of a rise in the export volumes of coffee, tea, maize and beans. This is a result of continued investment in agriculture and recently intensified effort on support to provision of planting and stocking materials as well as delivery of agricultural extension services.
I applaud your effort towards ensuring that the changing climate and agricultural practices do not deprive us of food. Nations that are deprived of food suffer hunger, poverty and extreme levels of financial strain.
To ensure food security in the current changing climate, we need to change to the use of fertilizers and shift from depending on the occasional erraticness of the rain to irrigation.
This event, therefore, like previous ones, gives all actors in the agricultural sector an opportunity to share experiences and exchange information on agricultural products and services as well as to create a forum where farmers meet to showcase their products.
Uganda's economic growth and development outlook is positive, with the economy projected to grow at, at least, 7 percent in the medium term, but could even be higher given that we have now sorted out the key constraints to growth.
Given the foundation of a strong Army, good roads, many electricity generating stations, the standard gauge railway, the ICT backbone, the schools' infrastructure and the health infrastructure, there is no big problem that we cannot solve.
Agriculture is one of the primary drivers for transforming lives of all Ugandans on a sustainable basis. It is our commitment to enable all households, especially the rural small holder farmers, to earn at least Shillings 20 million per year from a combination of agricultural and other economic enterprises. In this way, we shall eliminate hunger and poverty; and stabilize food and nutrition security in Uganda.
The magnitude of Agriculture sector importance in terms of employment and wealth creation, food and nutrition security; household incomes and its contribution in terms of export revenues remains the mainstay of Uganda's economy.
Agriculture is still instrumental towards improving the population's livelihood and the entire economy. For example;
• It contributes 26.2% of Uganda's GDP
• Employs over 80% of the Ugandan population.
• 53% of Uganda's export revenues are derived from agriculture production.
Agriculture led growth continues to play a pivotal role for Uganda, with over 4.2 million small holder farmers deriving their livelihood directly from Agriculture. The Government will, in the medium term, continue to pursue policies and interventions that promote increased value addition, in order to improve our foreign exchange base.
In the medium term, the Government will continue to pursue interventions aimed at boosting the export potential so as to significantly reduce the import bill.
The NRM has been, since 1995, telling Ugandans that there are only four sectors for wealth and jobs creation. The four sectors are commercial agriculture; industries (bigger, or small); services (hotels transport, professional services, shops, etc.); and ICT (BPOs, etc).
Focusing mainly on agriculture on this occasion, I wish to remind you that, as of the last census, 68% of the homesteads were still in subsistence farming ─ that is growing crops only for food ─ no commercial activity.
Subsistence farming is a sentence to poverty for those families that have not woken up but we must all wake up and banish poverty out of our households by engaging in agricultural activity for commercial purposes and we must do it with ekibaro.
Within agriculture, there are four ways of doing commercial activities. These are: the four acres plan, the micro-activities for those that no longer have the four acres; the medium and large scale farmers; and the plantation agriculture.
We must identify where we fall and concentrate on activities that yield on account of high returns per acre, per annum.
Uganda is a very rich country, with very good land. However, this good land has been "disabled" by the practice of bad human settlement. The main cause of "disability" has been the practice of inheritance (kulamira-kusikira) by fragmentation.
Uganda has got a population of 41 million with a purchasing power of US$ 88.6billion. This is still small but growing at more than 6% per annum. Now that we have solved the problem of electricity and we are solving the problem of transport costs (by building the railway and the water ways), it will grow by double-digits.
Uganda is part of the East African Community with a population of more than 170million people. It is also a member of COMESA with a population of 500million people and it is now a member of the CFTA with a population of about 800 million people.
By 2050,Uganda's population will be 106 million people and that of Africa will be 2.5 billion people.
Therefore, in terms of market, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of comparative labour costs, Uganda is unstoppable. We are also handling the issue of the cost of money by capitalizing our Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to provide low cost loans for factories, hotels, tourism facilities and ICT companies, instead of only relaying on the Commercial Banks which specialize on financing importers with interest rates of 23%. The UDB loans will be around 12% in Local shillings.
I appeal to Ugandans and institutions who are attending this Expo not only to admire what is on display but also to take time and talk to the exhibitors and to obtain useful knowledge of innovations and new practices and experiences so that you can apply it on your own farms and businesses.
Once again, I thank the farmers and the exhibitors. Without you this show would not have been possible.
Finally, I wish to congratulate the Vision Group and Mr. Robert Kabushenga in particular for organizing this year's Harvest Money Expo.
I thank you all.