By Joshua Kato
When the 2014 best farmers visited the Netherlands in April 2015, one of the companies that they toured was Holland Greentech. The company promotes irrigation systems and greenhouses.
Seeds from Netherlands
Although the company was already established in other countries, it was not in Uganda.
“The discussion between the best farmers and the company officials was positive,” Steven Kasule Bayite, the policy officer, agribusiness and economic diplomacy at the Embassy of the Netherlands, says.
The farmers encouraged the company to set up a base in Uganda. In November 2016, the company was started here.
In the Harvest Money Expo in 2017, they were part of the most attractive exhibitors in the Dutch village. Seven years later, they are operating across the country.
They have also attended all subsequent Harvest Money expos since 2017. On November 23, the company celebrated seven years in Uganda with an event held at Nama sub-county in Mukono district.
“We encouraged this Dutch company and many others to come and invest in Uganda because they had simple, but very effective technologies that Ugandan farmers can adopt,” Kasule says.
He adds that one of the challenges smallholder farmers face across the country is access to finances. The other is access to useful farming knowledge.
“Our priority as the embassy is to make sure that the Dutch come here and share knowledge and other support with smallholder farmers in Uganda,” Kasule says while officiating at the function.
“The embassy is now putting emphasis on smallholder farmers because that is the best way of fighting food insecurity,” he adds.
Recently, the Embassy of the Netherlands launched three projects that will tackle food security and nutrition in Uganda.
The package is valued at Euros 110m (sh440b). The projects will run for five years, with the main focus on food security and improving the lives of smallholder farmers countrywide. During the launch, the ambassador, Dr Karin Boven, also emphasises the Dutch’s focus on smallholder farmers.
“Smallholder farmers and agriculture in general, face a number of challenges like climate change, low adoption of innovations and lack of access to finance. Others are lack of risk mitigation measures like agricultural insurance, land degradation, changes in the rainfall patterns which need us to remain alert,” she says.
Boven adds that the role of the local government is key for the success of agriculture projects and land tenure security is essential for rural development.
“In the near future, our new programmes will start with a closer link to the local governments with a focus of scaling up the certification of customary ownership of 400,000 farmers that provide affordable land tenure security,” she says.
In their seven years of operation in Uganda, Holland Greentech has established themselves across the country, with Mukono district as a major operational zone.
Victoria Nakyagaba, the managing director of Holland Greenteech, says the choice of Nama in Mukono to host their seven years celebrations was not by accident.
“There are many farmers in Mukono who have embraced our technologies and this is why we decided to come and celebrate with them,” she says.
The company has now set up model centres across the country, including the latest one which is in West Nile.
Steven Ganzi Musoke, the councillor in Mukono district and secretary for production trade and economic development, asked his residents to go back to the farm.
The day, which was also attended by students from neighbouring schools, was crowned with planting trees at the sub-county headquarters.