Agricultural minister Frank Tumwebaze has applauded the Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) for providing a sustainable market to cassava and sorghum farmers in the country.
He said access to market is one of the biggest challenges most farmers face, noting that it is also worth thanking the middlemen for their contribution in the value chain.
“Birds in the air don’t farm but they feed, so the middlemen don’t dig; they don’t suffer but they reap big. When it comes to the supply chain their work of linking the market to the farmers is worth commending,” Tumwebaze said.
Tumwebaze who was speaking during the Uganda Breweries Farmers Forum aimed at boosting the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) initiative through increased agriculture output, said cassava as a raw material for the brewing industry is a great opportunity to the farmers.
“How I wish the beer from cassava can increase. Previously, cassava was only considered for food and sorghum was famous for the industry but we are happy that these are all opportunities to the farmers.
“We want to have a conversation with the ministry of Finance such that when they are taxing products, let them differentiate those which are directly as a result of the farmers’ effort and put much tax on those products, which are not from the farmers’ efforts,” he said.
The minister applauded the farmers towards ensuring sustainable supply of the raw materials, saying despite the challenges of revenue collection reduction in the economy, they are still committed to supporting farmers.
“My ministry has come out aggressively with a strategy to support large-scale commercial farmers. We are not yet there fully, but we have started, we are now profiling farmers who need support for machineries because we don’t want to give tractors to people who can’t use them.
“We are now profiling farmers per a district with large acreage of land so that we give them tractors. These tractors have a software for tracking and if it gets out of the country, we shall be in position to track them,” he said.
Tumwebaze explained that our capacity as a country since independence is very low, with the entire stock of tractors both private and public being 4,700.
Out of that, 30-40% are non-functional and that explains why a lot of arable land people fight over is underutilized for agricultural production. Only 34.4% of the land is used and we still have 65% not utilised, while countries like Egypt and others grow more food with application of fertilisers.
Andrew Kalonzo, the managing director Uganda Breweries Ltd, said they are proud to showcase the potential and impact that working with the farmers has on the business and the society at large
“The farming community makes over 60% of the Uganda breweries ltd value chain directly to the society and support to the ecosystems,” he said.
At the core of the local raw material agenda, UBL, he said, is making farming more productive and profitable for the Ugandan farmers which is critical in reducing poverty, boosting prosperity and creating jobs.
“The use of local raw materials has a highly positive impact on the economy as it puts earnings directly into the pockets of more local farmers, and manufactures could benefit from a fairer operating environment that means they are able to pay farmers more,” Kalonzo said.