Since 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads), has been procuring and distributing agricultural inputs (planting and livestock materials) to smallholder farmers for food security and increased household income under Operation Wealth Creation initiative by government.
This support has resulted in increased agricultural production and productivity for both crop and livestock enterprises as shown in the recent production figures of maize, beans, tea, milk and bananas among others.
In order to consolidate the gains so far achieved, government is laying emphasis on the need to strengthen value chains anchored in the local economic development initiatives. The increased production has laid a foundation for agro-industrialisation with a need for government to invest in value addition to address post-harvest losses and increase the value of agricultural produce.
Although government through Naads still supports some farmers with planting and stocking materials, the emphasis has been shifted to address the gaps in the agriculture value chain concentrating on value addition and processing. This move has been communicated to stakeholders, including the farmers and the nursery bed operators, through various communication platforms, including zonal review meetings.
The shift in priorities is informed by the theme for this financial year’s Budget: ‘Industrialisation for job creation and shared prosperity’ where government has directed a bigger percentage of the national resources towards promoting industrialisation with emphasis on agro-industrialisation.
In line with the above, government though Naads has directed resources to the establishment of fruit processing facilities, which include Kayunga Pineapple processing factory (12 metric tonnes per day) in Kayunga District, Yumbe Mango Processing Plant (six metric tonne per hour) in Yumbe District, Nwoya Fruit processing factory (12 metric ton per hour) in Nwoya District.
Government through Naads, is also in advanced stages of establishing two industrial parks in Rwenzori region (Kabarole and Kasese) to promote value addition and processing. Government has set aside Shs10b for this purpose under the Agricultural Local Economic Development Initiative (AGRI-LED).
Resources have also been allocated to promote mechanisation of agriculture through the distribution of tractors to farmers, provision of water for production through the distribution of solar water pumping irrigation systems and provision of processing equipment along agriculture value chain for agro-industrialisation mainly the maze mills and feed mills.
In addition to the shift in government priorities, beginning 2020/2021 Financial Year, the distribution of planting materials will be concentrated in areas within the vicinity of the emerging grain and fruit processing facilities for agro-industrialisation.
Similarly, the distribution of dairy heifers will be in the vicinity of milk coolers and mini-dairy processing facilities.
These interventions will target Area-Based Commodity Clusters in the selected parts of Uganda in line with the agriculture zoning strategy. A commodity cluster will group a number of districts in close proximity and serves to concentrate value chain actors (Input distributors, producers, traders, processors, transporters, financial service providers etc) with experience in the commodity, provide requisite infrastructure that, taken together provide opportunities for success in scaling up and development of the relevant commodity value chains.
Ms Nakakande is the head of communication and publications