Saturday, November 13, 2010

Uganda bemoans lack of proper agric market

Uganda bemoans lack of proper agric market
By Kabanda Chulu in Uganda
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

UGANDA’s agriculture minister Hope Mwesigye has said lack of proper market structures has continued to frustrate agricultural productivity despite huge investments by governments and development partners.

And Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) chief executive officer Cris Muyunda has said there is need to address the danger of turning into a full-fledged bureaucracy that does not deliver services to target beneficiaries.

Officially opening the 4th ACTESA stakeholders meeting on agriculture commodity trade in Entebbe, Uganda on Wednesday, Mwesigye said ACTESA and its partners had an obligation to define a clear pathway of graduating smallholder farmers into entrepreneurs that would produce sustainably for markets.

She said there was need to ensure that small-scale farmers and traders remained in business and continued producing and marketing enough commodities for their own countries and export markets.

“To enhance agricultural growth and food security by simply increasing
investment is not enough, and governments and development partners have to make fundamental changes in the way we do business,” advised Mwesigye.

“Stand alone and supply-driven commodity interventions are not only unsustainable but they will not succeed. Instead, we should support ACTESA to strengthen existing public private partnerships and business-to-business alliances that facilitate the development of smallholder-supportive value chains.”

And USAID representative Peter Ewell challenged ACTESA to put in place well-defined and measurable indicators when implementing programmes.

And COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya said the lack of market capacities for the dominant smallholder farmers had ruined the performance of the agriculture sector in Africa.

“Of all the factors constraining agricultural productivity and overall growth of the agriculture sector, access to profitable markets is the most important one,” said Ngwenya in a speech read on his behalf by COMESA director of gender affairs Emiliana Tembo. “Small farmers must become commercialised and consider agriculture a real business enterprise.”

And Dr Muyunda said ACTESA was on track to fulfilling its intended objectives as could be seen by the various programmes being undertaken.

“The bottom line is that ACTESA is not a talking shop; it’s an impact-oriented organisation strongly focusing on the best practices in policy market services and capacity building,” said Dr Muyunda.

“In terms of challenges that we still have to address, we note the following that there is always a danger of turning into a fully-fledged bureaucracy that does not deliver hence the need to do a lot better both as a secretariat and as stakeholders in quickening the delivery of service to our target beneficiaries.”

ACTESA is a specialised agency of COMESA whose main goal is to increase farmer productivity and incomes in the region through trade in strategic agricultural commodities.

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