By Joshua Kato
Uganda has the potential to be an international food basket. This was observed by Mariam Blak, Uganda’s ambassador to the Netherlands.
“The country can feed the African region and the world as a whole,” she said.
This was contained in a speech read on her behalf by Byonabye B.B Mwesigwa, the 3rd Secretary at the Uganda embassy in Belgium/ Netherlands, during an interaction in Amsterdam, last Friday.
The 2020 best farmers were on the 5th day of their learning tour in the Netherlands, in which among other activities they visited farms and met up with potential business partners.
Several people at the event alluded to Uganda’s good weather which produces tasty fruits and vegetables, only to be let down by low quality, especially in hygiene and low quantities.
She explained that on the other hand, the Dutch are emphasizing both quality produce and quantities.
“It is very important for Ugandan farmers to come here and learn because the Netherlands is the epi-centre of farming innovations in the world,” she said.
Among the groups that the farmers visited during their six-day stay in the Netherlands were dairy, horticulture farms, apple farms, research institutions like Wagengen, equipment dealers and fabricators etc.
The ambassador thanked the government of the Netherlands for their continued support of the best farmers competition.
“The best farmers is one of the most prominent success stories in the cooperation between Uganda and the Netherlands,” Mwesigwa said.
The embassy of the Netherlands has been supporting the Best Farmers competition since 2014. Other sponsors of the competition include KLM Airlines, dfcu Bank, Vision Group and Koudjis Nutrition BV.
Mwesigwa pointed out that as long as Ugandan farmers innovate and practice consistently, they can improve and earn more from their sweat.
Using the example of the dairy sector in Uganda, she said, “at the moment, Uganda produces 5.5bn liters of milk per year, up from 3.2 billion two years ago. All this has come due to improvements in innovations.
With the increasing challenges of producing milk in Europe, Uganda has the potential to export her milk to the larger market.
Josephat Byaruhanga, the Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture at the embassy of the Netherlands asked Ugandan farmers to pick easily implementable practices in the Netherlands and adopt them to Uganda.
“The farmers here produce much more because of the levels of investment that they put in, but you can pick the management practices including the top-notch timekeeping and farm organization,” he said.
Dr Bernard Obaa, one of the farmers demanded that his fellow farmers and Ugandans in general have an eye for business, grab the opportunities and start earning more.
“I have seen the level of production here, but also noticed that tropical foods are imported. These are the opportunities we must grab as a tropical country and export our fruits here,” he said.
PHOTO CAPTION: Byonabye B.B Mwesigwa, the 3rd Secretary at the Uganda embassy in Belgium/ Netherlands discussing farmers’ challenges with Josephat Byaruhanga, the Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture at the embassy of the Netherlands. Photo by Joshua Kato