Greater Ankole innovators both in the agricultural and industrial sectors on Wednesday pleaded with government, to avail them with financial incentives, that would allow them push their production levels to greater heights.
This was during the closing day of the Uganda Investment Symposium organised by Uganda Development Bank and Operation Wealth Creation at Kakyeka stadium, Mbarara City.
These creative individuals expressed serious concern about their inability to sustain smooth operations of their busuness activities, which has forced some to resort to retrenching of workers, thus hindering their production processes.
Lack of access to adequate funds have also made most of them employ rudimentary methods of production, while others have voted themselves out of existence.
For instance Eli Nsabimaana, the proprietor of MIECA Uganda Limited said his company faces challenges like the use of rudimentary methods, which slows production.
MIECA is located in Kawuku along Entebbe road with branches in Ankole and it deals in manufacturing, packaging and exporting of local food like matooke, sweet casava, yams etc.
“I employ a big number of people, but the challenge is using the manual method. But because I am in partnership now with UDB, I am in an automatic system, which is going to help me get a good production, final production,” Nsabimaana said.
Mzee Metusela Bainomugisha a large scale fish farmer based in Isingiro district decried rampant corruption, selfishness and embezzlement of funds by hawkish government officials, as a major contributor to Uganda’s economic problems, than Covid-19.
“This project is on the level of the world, you can see i have nine types of fish, tilapia i have six types, and three types of catfish. But it is a big farm, it was designed by Americans, volunteers from America, even electricity i have,” said Metusela.
“But because of this corruption, because of those who want money even they hadnt invited me in this symposium because for me i come with three vehicles, i show people different sizes of fish. Like my cat fish.
“You find when some have 7 or 8kgs, and i have bigger area, the president visited there in 1999 and what he promised, up to today, we havent received.m. But the money they brought, it was eaten by some government officials. The problem is corruption. I started fish farming in 1993,” added Mzee Metusela.
Bruce Benywanira, a matooke grower from Isingiro district also complained about corruption in government circles.
He told the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Finance Ramathan Ggoobi, who represented president Yoweri Museveni, that the president visited his plantation at a time he did not disclose, and promised him a van to aid his operations, but funds for the van were misappropriated by negative elements in government.
Katumba James of “Katali Kankiza” small scale yoghurt producing company in Kakoba, Mbarara complained of limited acesss to Machinery, inadequate funds and also operating from rented premises.
” We have products that have no color, using beet root to put the color, and the flavour, a product that has no sweetener. Beetroots puts the color and flavour. We are targeting health centres, refugee camps, institutions of higher learning. We are trying to bridge the gap between zero hunger and good health,” said Mr. Katumba.
Dr. Edward Kazire of Kazire Health Products emphasized the need to sanction foreign investors, to avoid profit repatriation, and ensure that these investors use locally available raw materials.
Maud Kamatenesi Mugisha, the Vice Chancellor of Bishop Stuart University, who was also a mojor participant in the symposium emphasized skilling and financing students to develop their projects, vital for the nation’s economic recovery.
“Here we have been under NAADS, we are promoting the work of NAADS and it has been despised. We are promoting different opportunities by students and right now, we are using our immediate environment, to promote agriculture and students are using their own environment, little money to achieve greater benefits,” Kamatenesi noted.
Mbarara North City MP Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari responded to the concerns of farmers swiftly, while touring exhibition stalls with the permanent secretary Ggoobi.
He told farmers one by one, that their prime aim of organizing the symposium was to secure funding for their businesses at no interest rates, or at relatively lower interests affordable to farmers and traders.
“Secondly, we had a conversation on why government has ignored financing marketing, yet start ups for farming and trading is financed. Agricultural out put how it can be marketed and this was talked about by the permanent secretary,” said Rukaari, while talking on the sidelines of the event.
According to the legislator, showcasing great things Ankole has, which are crucial in attracting financiers or investors, large scale traders and how they can start constructing or establishing factories in the sub region, was another reason as to why they organised the function.
This was done by singling out out distinguished traders, scientists and agriculturalists like Dr. Edward Kazire to tell people his story on how he beat the odds and emerged best, what he has gone through for others to learn.
After the function, Six Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed with UDB.
Among the financial deals signed include thos with schools and universities like Bishop Stuart university and Mbarara University of Science and Technology, totalling to Shs1.20 billlion to aid the entities in research.
On the other hand, the event was sealed with launching a book known as “Coffee Table Book”, which talks about the story about different coffee growing districts, totalling 13 in number.
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