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Minister Tumwebaze Roots For ‘Farming For Export Forum’

Minister Frank Tumwebaze (R) with Caroline Adriaensen, the EU representative

The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Frank Tumwebaze, has put before stakeholders a proposal to have a forum dubbed, ‘Farming For Export’ so as to address real challenges of the farmers.

Speaking at a trialogue on boosting Uganda’s horticultural exports to the European Union Wednesday morning, Tumwebaze said: “We are here discussing export promotion. Of course, export promotion is big; gold, diamond.  So, let’s have a forum and let’s meet every month. You technical people can meet every month and the political leadership can meet every quarter. In that forum is where we will discuss all those challenges. We don’t have to wait for the presidential round table for people to complain and then the President comes to us.”

According to Tumwebaze, problems start from the farm/farmer.

 He says that the government cannot be everywhere and as such, the forum will bring together a private sector players and a network of farmers.

“Government can’t be on every farm. As the off taker of Gorillos (snacks children like very much), you will know which farmer is growing what you will need to process or you are working with. So we can support you and even offer extensions. The same applies to the organic farmers. If you think farming for export is a good program,” he said adding: “That’s how we shall account for our annual target. We shall be talking with specifics. Which region did not comply, which farmer, because we cannot have money as a government to employ more people but I can argue and say, that for me to perfect and increase my export standards to the EU market, say by 30%, I need this amount of money. I will support or fund 100 or 1000 lead exporter farmers who will in term on our behalf reach the farmers. We can take the strategy, defend it, take it to the cabinet. Government can’t reach every point directly. But indirectly, the government can reach. If you agree with me, we can go and design a program called ‘farming for export’ such that somebody right from the farm knows I am farming for export and eventually it becomes the culture in our value chain.”

To this, Tumwebaze appealed for support from the EU.

“I would request the EU to give us support to work with the people of MAAIF to support our farmers,” he said.

Caroline Adriaensen, the EU representative, revealed that there is potential to improve agriculture exports to Europe.

“There is an important untapped potential to improve agriculture exports to Europe. The EU will remain Uganda’s Second largest exporting market particularly for agricultural products,” she said.

Responding to Tumwebaze’s request, she said: “We are taking these points with us for further reflection and see how to support.”

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