By Herbert Musoke
The 9th edition of the Best Farmers’ competition has been launched with a call to farmers not to miss because there is a lot to benefit.
Washington Mugerwa the husband to Dr Emma Naluyima (Maama pig) who is one one of the first winners in 2014 says that the Best Farmers’ competition is one of its kind in Uganda and any farmer that wants to progress must never miss being part of the best farmer competition.
“Dear farmers, there are a lot of benefits from this competition. At the time Dr. Naluyima won, we had plans of having an education institute but we didn’t really know how to set it up. After visiting the Netherlands as a reward for the winner of the best farmer competition, she visited a school that was teaching farmers’ children, and it is from here that she borrowed the idea that led to the birth of MST Junior school,” he explains.
Mugerwa stresses that Naluyima also brought along the mobile food vehicle idea that saw the birth of their moving pork market, where they drive to any place especially expos, exhibitions and events to sell their roasted pork.
The 2023 Best Farmers’ competition was March 14 launched at Naluyima’s MST Junior school at Bwerenga-Entebe and this year it is open to all farmers who believe they have something other farmers can learn from them.
Don Wanyama, the Vision Group ED, said that the competitions are aimed at promoting farming as a business in Uganda through creating exemplary farmers who other farmers who want to engage into farming can learn from.
“We are grateful for our sponsors led by the Netherlands embassy, KLM royal Dutch airlines, dfcu bank and Koudjis BV nutrition who have been with us for all the years and we are still moving on well,” he says.
According to Wanyama, 95 farmers have been awarded best farmers out of whom 59 farmers have travelled to the Netherlands. Also, sh1.25bn has been given out to winners as money prizes to promote technology and improve their farms and the way they manage their farms.
“Last year 2022 we had the best of the best farmer competition where we went back to the winners to test how they are doing, their impact to the society among others, but this year we are back to the usual farmers,” he says.
Ten winners will be selected across the country and all winners will be taken to an expenses paid learning visit to the Netherlands. They will also share shs150m where the overall winner will take shs50m, the second position will take shs30m, third position shs20m and the other seven will share shs50.
Lukia Otema the country manager Uganda KLM Roayal Dutch Airlines applaud the best farmer competitions for promoting business for the airline saying that it contributes to a great percentage of their cargo.
“The perishables are now competing with the passengers. Even during the lockdown, we stayed in business because farmers were exporting farming products to and from the Netherlands and other destinations which is a business for us as the airline,” she said.
She also, ensured 2019 winners that they will be travelling to the Netherlands in June this year as the 2020 winners prepare to travel shortly after they have returned.
“As we mark 10 years of the best farmer next year, we hope it will be bigger and better to continue uplifting and making farming the real backbone of Uganda’s economy but feeding the nation and the region,” she added.
Jude Kansiime the Head of sales at dfcu bank said that they are proud and committed to support the best farmer because it has helped them grow business that now farming accounts for over 20% of their borrowing portfolio.
“We want to thank all partners because the impact the best farmers are making in the farming community and the country at large is great,” he said.
Victoria Ssekitoleko, the former minister of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries (MAAIF), and the leading best farmer judge, ensured farmers would join the competition because the judging committee is competent enough to choose the best farmer.
Frank Buizer the Agriculture counsellor at the Netherlands embassy, who represented the Netherlands ambassador, said that the embassy is committed to supporting the competition and the Harvest money Expo because they are impacting the farming industry in Uganda.
“The best farmer competition has presented many opportunities beneficial to each other. Agriculture in Uganda has a lot of potential looking at the markets and for the Netherlands we venture much into innovations and machinery which means there is a lot we can benefit from each other by creating networks.
Now that the competition is launched, farmers in communities are asked to submit their nominations. Thereafter, their profiles will be captured and published in Vision Group media platforms, before they are visited by the panel of judges who will give a final verdict to announce the winners in December. Farmers can visit any Vision Group offices, including the head office in Kampala, Etop in Soroti, Arua One in Arua, TV West in Mbarara, Vision Group regional bureaus to hand in their nominations.