Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) held the First National Farmers Summit at Imperial Royal hotel, Kampala. The summit was attended by farmer leaders from UNFFE member organizations across the country, development partners, officials from Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government, CSO representatives, scientists, and the media fraternity. During the summit, Katungisa Kenneth the UNFFE Chief Executive Officer noted that this year’s focus is on presenting major policy issues emerging from different District Farmers Associations (DFAs) and further engaging different stakeholders using this platform. Major policy issues presented counted in the challenge of inclusive agricultural value chains, unsafe use of agrochemicals, the unprecedented destruction of the natural environment, and biodiversity conservation, the farmers’ role in the implementation of the Parish Development Model, and positioning farmers to harness the opportunities under the Agricultural Cluster Development Project.
While giving his remarks Dr. Dick Kamuganga the UNFFE President extended a sincere vote of thanks to all development partners who have supported the federation in organizing the first national farmers’ summit. He noted that this is going to be an annual event where farmer leaders will have an opportunity to interact and interface with different stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Dr. Kamuganga indicated that the farmers’ federation is leading the agenda of digitalizing the agriculture sector to bring services closer to the farmer, especially the smallholder farmer. “With financial support from Uganda Communications Commission and technical support from Eight Tech Consult, we have developed technology-based solutions to speed up service delivery targeting the smallholder farmers. Hon Minister, I am kindly requesting you to launch the UNFFE ICT4Farmers as well as this National Farmers Summit as an annual event. As UNFFE, we are supplementing government efforts to collect real-time data concerning farmers, and this is covered under the Parish Development Model and NITA-Uganda mandate. Our goal, Hon Minister, is to transform the 39 percent smallholder farmers who are practicing subsistence farming into a money economy that is why we have solidified our working relationship with your ministry through signing a long-term Memorandum of Understanding.” Dr. Dick Kamuganga noted.
In his prayers to the Minister, Dr. Kamuganga requested that under the government’s efforts to promote agro-industrialization, each DFA should be given a tractor to enable them to extend tractor services closer to the farmers as well as equip dairy farmers with animal feed processing equipment since DFAs are already organized farmer groups across the country.
While addressing the farmer leaders at the summit, Hon Fred Bwino the state minister of Agriculture expressed his gratitude to UNFFE for holding the first-ever national farmer summit. He noted that this presents his ministry as a platform to convey important policy issues to the nation as well as create a platform for the ministry to connect to farmers. He assured UNFFE leadership that MAAIF has full confidence in UNFFE as a representative of all farmers in Uganda. He said that H.E. the president has guided that whenever the government is dealing with farmers, they should focus on these three major categories of farmers that are small-scale, middle-scale, and large-scale farmers. In his explanation, Hon Fred stressed that all small-scale farmers should focus on high-value agricultural enterprises to be able to generate more returns with the small farms. “we have identified high-value enterprises under the PDM and specific support where small-scale farmers can focus on. Coffee, poultry, piggery for non-Muslims, diary-zero grazing, fruits, and vegetables. In their quest to commercialize, we also encourage them to grow food for their families with crops such as sweet potatoes, cassava, yams, and peas. The government through NAADS is supporting oil seed farmers, especially those growing soya beans, sunflowers, Hass avocado, and Macadamia. In the second category, Hon Fred noted that medium-scale farmers should focus on crops like sugarcane, and cotton where they can generate profit because of the larger space they are using.
He noted that MAAIF is planning to start Farmer Barazas and H.E. the President has agreed to participate in national farmer barazas. He noted that these barazas, will start from the regions to address particular issues in the region and these will be broadcast for the entire nation to follow. “Government has decided to monitor, control, and regulate the area of seed, stocking (livestock), and fish fingering because of its importance to this sector and Uganda at large. The other area is Disease and pest control, diseases such as foot and mouth, fall armyworm, the government is going to be at the center of providing timely solutions” Hon Fred noted.
He concluded by assuring UNFFE leadership that the government has established 20,000 operating tractors from the 2,000. He indicated that H.E. the President has directed his ministry to establish 19 mechanization centers in each sub-region where a workshop will be set up to train tractor operators, tractor assembling, tractor repair, and maintenance with the recent one in Namalere commissioned by H.E the President. Besides the small-scale farmers, the government is planning to support large-scale farmers to build capacity to add value and also the fisheries sector. He appreciated UNFFE for good work and noted that government particularly MAAIF will continue to support UNFFE in organizing the national agricultural show in Jinja and is also soliciting other partners like the Italian Farmers Federation to support such initiatives. The minister launched the first national farmers’ summit and the UNFFEICT4Farmers initiative.