Covid-19 provides agri business great opportunity

Thursday September 16 2021
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Mike W Kinyera

By Guest Writer

Coronavirus has pervaded all sectors in the economy and the finance sector is feeling the pinch. 

Apart from business taking cuts in the number of people working at location, with immediate consequences on the transport sector, the education, and hospitality, several other sectors are taking hits which reverberate into consequences for the financial sector. 

The Coronavirus necessitates a re-think of life as it was and now compels us to remodel how we operate if we are to overcome its worst side effects; including civil unrest.

Slowly but surely the numbers have scared borrowers away from credit and left banks sitting on excess liquidity. This will no doubt negatively impact on the bottom lines of the financial institutions but also more importantly impact on economic growth and livelihood of Ugandans. 

In the end we shall witness more unemployment, mal-nutrition and lawlessness. Imagine the scenario of private schools who have borrowed money and have been unable to generate meaningful income over two years and are faced with a daily reality of teachers who need salaries to survive!

Needless to say this is only one side of the coin. There are delinquencies and bad debts that are going to erode the books of the credit reliant institutions. 

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As businesses collapse more and more stress will be visited on the economy compromising wellbeing and livelihoods of citizens. And it is bound to get worse unless a remedy is obtained. The lack of dedicated plans to chart a road map out of this abyss ought to worry any right thinking man. 

Knee jerk reactions with lockdown seems to be the universal solution to the epidemic without any thought of the long term consequences.

The National Development Plan III identifies five pillars if our great nation is to attain its development objectives. The areas under advisement are: 

Infrastructure, agriculture, mining, and oil and gas, tourism and human capital development. It should be recalled that the overall goal of the National Development Plan is to, “Increase household incomes and improve quality of life”  

In the context of an agricultural economy amidst the worst circumstances of Covid-19 people must still eat and must still have raw materials to feed industry. 

Consequently Covid-19 may just have forced the hands of the financial institutions to invest more in agriculture. Moreover there is evidence that the medicinal herb extracts are also effective against Covid. 

Apart from the medicinal plants the world needs huge quantities of crops with particular properties to boost immunities against the Coronavirus. These include garlic, spices and chilii, ginger, citrus fruits, and essential oils to mention but a few.

Uganda with its great climate and dual rain season is uniquely placed to take advantage of these opportunities. Now is the time to spur production and we shall reach the promised land before the projections in the NDPIII. May be the time is nigh to recall the words of Winston Churchill, “Focus on Uganda!” Uganda can be the supplier to several countries with our vast arable lands. 

Another immediate area of development would be the housing infrastructure. As people’s incomes increase from the productive agriculture above they will seek better houses, more warehouses. These are two tips of the cow horn agriculture and infrastructure. 

We would mop out youth unemployment and full bellies make poor revolutionaries; if you get me. However in order to achieve this there is need for leadership. We need to get the thinking heads in a room and make a strategy for implementation; and if you say we give the idea to the usual suspects in the Prime Minister’s office you will find me looking after my ducks in Pajule.

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