When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Innocent Piloya, 27, took advantage of the lockdown to actualise her dream of starting a coffee shop.
“I had a plan two years back before starting my business in 2020. I utilised the ample time created by the pandemic to start my business,” Piloya, a resident of Gulu city, says.
The agri-business management graduate from Makerere University used her skills and started with sh200,000 capital.
Though she started with one product of coffee, today, Piloya, who runs Anyadwe Foods business is boasting of having a gross income of sh15m this year and employing four workers.
For Piloya, being an exhibitor does not mean having a big capital, but rather creating brand awareness to the public and that is what compelled her to be part of the first Northern Uganda Agricultural Show (NUAS).
“People at this show have told us to prepare our products from raw to ready ones. Most of the products we sell are raw and yet customers want something to bite immediately,” she said on Wednesday, June 29.
The young entrepreneur who is among the hundreds of exhibitors who embraced the event said regionalising the show was a platform for her to learn, but also create a new market in the long run.
More Piloyas needed
Piloya’s mission of dealing in local foods and giving them value to earn more is one of the core aims of the agriculture ministry.
At the official launch of the show held in Gulu city on Wednesday, Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS) secretary-general Grace Musimami said NUAS has been birthed out of the increasing population and, therefore, the need to have regional exhibitions.
Since 2013, Jinja Agricultural Trade Show which is held annually was the only one being promoted by the Government with all other regions expected to exhibit at the expo.
“It is no longer viable to carry all farmers from all the regions to attend Jinja shows. But we have also established that Northern Uganda is Uganda’s food basket,” Musimami said.
Farmers, lending institutions told to work together
Agriculture ministry assistant Commissioner of information and communication Consolata Acayo said it is ironic that despite the North being described as the food basket of the country, it is the poorest.
Though the region went through a lot, Acayo, who also hails from Nwoya district, said people should not continue lamenting about the war insurgency and get stuck to that without progressing.
Acayo who was launching the agricultural show at Pece Stadium in Gulu city on Wednesday observed the high level of laziness among the youth who anticipate having good welfare but do not struggle for it.
She also advised financial lending institutions to work with farmers who want to improve their production so that there is an appreciation of whatever the processes the loan recipients go through.
About the show
The show was organised by the government through the line ministry in partnership with UFAAS, Gulu University, National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), GIZ and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).
The one-week show that will end on July 3, has attracted about 150 exhibitors with 70% of them coming from Kampala and Bunyoro.
Timely intervention as PDM is rolled out
Alfred Okwonga, the Gulu City Mayor said as the Parish Development Model (PDM) is being rolled out, the exhibition brings a wealth of knowledge to those intending to engage in different enterprises.