Hon Bwino handing over a coffee gift pack to Aya Moubarak at the Uganda pavilion at Expo 2020
Hon. Fred Kyakulaga Bwino, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has urged Uganda’s representatives at Expo 2020 in Dubai to pursue the leads generated to the end to ensure the country benefits from the experience of participating in the six-month long event.
The Minister was in Dubai to attend the Agricultural Thematic Week at Expo 2020. He appreciated the stakeholders present and commended them highly for representing Uganda in their different capacities and urged them to pick lessons they can use to transform their respective sectors back home.
“We should not just come to the Expo, stay for six months and go back [with nothing to show for it],” he told stakeholders at the Uganda pavilion. “We should at our various levels seriously think how much we can emulate this and benefit from it; how much was invested and how much has been recovered.”
Expo 2020 began on 1st October 2021 and will run till 31st March 2022.
According to Dr. Sam Omara, the Deputy Commissioner General of the Uganda pavilion, the country has exceeded its target of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth 4 billion shillings to Uganda by the end of the expo.
“The target of our participation at Expo 2020 was to attract FDI worth 4 billion shillings to Uganda by the end of the 6 months but as I speak now we have so far surpassed that by over 500 million shillings,” Dr. Omara said.
He revealed that there are several projects still underway and the figure is likely to go higher.
The most sought after agricultural products according to the pavilion director, Mr. J. B. Lwere, are coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables, among others. The exposure Uganda coffee has received at Expo 2020 is expected to increase exports to the region with several expressions of interest being received at the pavilion daily.
Coffee exports to the Middle East have been on the rise. In FY 2020/21, Uganda exported 127,519 60 kg bags of coffee compared to 82,249 bags the previous year.
According to Uganda Coffee Development Authority’s representative at the pavilion, Ms. Judith Engena, visitors appreciate Uganda’s coffee and have given it positive reviews. Engena said they have received several expressions of interest in both Arabica and Robusta coffee which they believe will translate into actual sales.
The Minister encouraged all present to work together to raise the country’s flag and move the nation forward and urged the stakeholders to ensure consistency in quality, quantity and volume of their products.
Hon. Bwino reiterated Government’s commitment on increasing exports.
“The [export] opportunities are immense; we simply cannot exhaust the demand. The issues are well articulated regarding consistency in value and on volumes,” the Minister stated before adding, “The key driver in this is the Government. We will come up with a way to handle the entire value chain and segment the various markets.”
Picking up on issues raised in the meeting regarding quality and product packaging, Onzimai of PSFU informed the meeting that his organisation can provide solutions if they have the necessary information on what is required. He suggested that a team made up of representatives from the different stakeholders be commissioned to solve non-capital expenditure (non-CAPEX) issues.
“We have latitude to address non-CAPEX issues such as designing packaging, for companies to get certifications to access the markets, bringing products to the markets and building market linkages,” Onzimai said.
Also present at the meeting were Ambassador Elly Kamahungye Kafeero and Brain Mwanika from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Onzimai, an investment specialist from Private Sector Foundation Uganda, Lawrence Oketcho the director trade information at Uganda Export Promotions Board, private sector players and a team from Uganda Coffee Development Authority.