Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze has praised The Netherlands for the strategic support to the rapid growth of the agricultural sector.
He said this on April 25 while meeting a Dutch Embassy delegation led by Her Excellency Dr. Karin Boven, the Netherland Ambassador to Uganda, at his office in Kampala.
Dr. Boven and her team were paying a courtesy call on Tumwebaze to discuss interventions made by the Dutch government in the agriculture sector and areas of future collaboration.
Also in attendance was Dr. Ronald Gyagenda Ssegawa, the ministry’s Undersecretary, Finance and Administration, as well as the Commissioner Agriculture Planning, Mr. Fred Mayanja.
Last year, The Netherlands invested $86m (Shs 305bn) to uplift the agricultural sector mainly through the promotion of dairy farming, fisheries and horticulture subsectors. Further to this, some of the investment went into technical expertise and resources towards value addition, farmer trainings as well as provision of quality seeds.
It is on this premise that the Dutch are seeking closer ties with the ministry.
On her part, Dr. Boven praised the contribution of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in eradicating poverty through promotion of the best farming methods in Uganda.
The partnership between the agriculture ministry and the Dutch Embassy in Uganda has seen the identification of lead farmers in the different subsectors who they promote through aggressive training on smart agricultural practices.
Afterwards, it is incumbent upon these farmers to transform the lives of other smallholder farmers and those around them.
Tumwebaze also invited the visiting team to support the ministry on ‘big data’ management in agriculture right from parish to national level in order to enable improvement in dissemination of information as well as timely decision-making.
The Dutch are also spearheading the improvement of Uganda’s standards of produce for export, especially the qualification for phytosanitary certificates. Among others, they train farmers at the grassroots on how to ensure that they handle their produce better.
The minister also informed the team that government policy direction is shifting from providing free inputs to rural financing schemes at the parish level.
The goal is to have the financing schemes act as an incentive for farmers to pay attention and invest more time and effort in practicing smart practices that ultimately give them profitable agriculture enterprises.