Hon. Tress Bucyanayandi, Uganda’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, discusses the role the agriculture sector plays in the Ugandan economy.
European Times: What are your ministry’s current priorities?
Tress Bucyanayandi: It is of course extremely important that we are able to produce sufficient food for our growing population. Uganda is blessed with extensive farmland and a favourable climate for agriculture, but to take advantage of these natural resources, we need to invest in research and new farming techniques to increase production. We have already been able to boost our production and exports. Even with fluctuating commodity prices, our traditional exports have remained stable and our exports of tea, for example, have actually increased. We are also seeing steady growth in livestock production and we are exporting our surplus meat and milk, mainly to the Middle East and India. We are also exporting fresh-water fish to Europe, although we are concerned about over-fishing and are instituting new policies to prevent that while also developing new infrastructure for our fisheries sector.
European Times: In addition to increasing production and exports, what are your other chief goals for the agriculture sector?
Tress Bucyanayandi: As we increase productivity, it makes sense that we should also be adding value. We are starting at the level of our farms by working to ensure that up-to-date machinery and technologies are available to our farmers. We are also developing our food-processing industry, which already accounts for 40% of the manufacturing in Uganda. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has come up with a comprehensive road map, our ‘Bible’ for the agriculture sector. One goal is to enhance the incomes of our rural population. We would like to raise per capita income to at least €6,476 (UGX20 million) per annum.
European Times: What are some high-potential opportunities for foreign investors in Uganda’s agriculture sector?
Tress Bucyanayandi: I can single out fertiliser-manufacturing and irrigation as well as added-value food-processing. Centuries of farming have extracted nutrients from our soil and we need to use fertiliser. The government is supporting enterprises setting up fertiliser-manufacturing businesses through offering streamlined licensing and other assistance. Concerning irrigation, we need to begin to prepare for climate change and make sure our irrigation systems are adequate. We encourage investments which will bring in new technologies.
European Times: What is your personal message to investors?
Tress Bucyanayandi: Uganda offers a favourable investment climate and vast potential in the agriculture sector.