By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Kampala, Uganda: Uganda’s Trade Minister Hon. Harriet Ntabazi on Wednesday assured a congregation of organic farmers of whole government support on hunting for markets where they can sell their products regionally and internationally. This she said during the First Agroecological Market Systems Expo (AMASE) organized by PELUM Uganda.
“We have put energy to cite market for our farmers. We have our East African market which has broadened to include Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan and it potential buyers for our products”. Hon. Ntabazi stated.
She added that Uganda is already a member of Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is duty free. This only require Ugandans to add value in that their products are free from aflatoxins.
Ntabazi also highlighted that in a bid to break barriers that bind smooth trade, East African Community member states agreed to recognize standards of each member.
“All members of the community agreed that if a product’s standard is approved in Uganda, it shouldn’t further be subjected to approval in another member state. This was done to reduce the bureaucracy traders go through while exporting”. She said.
She implored all Ugandans to adopt organic farming citing that it is the only way we can restore the environment and ensure healthy living as well generate income in homesteads rather than going for toxic Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Josephine Akia the Country Coordinator at Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) stressed that this event is geared towards seeking help from government through Ministry of Trade Industries and Cooperatives (MTIC) in search for new markets and boosting the already existing ones for organic products regionally and internationally.
She stated that the event is also looking at empowering the youths to participate in organic farming in order to develop themselves.
She added that it has also brought together stakeholders in organic farming like agricultural loaning banks, exporters, certifiers-those that ensure quality of products to deliberate on issues aimed at changing the status quo of organic farming in Uganda.
Amy Laksman, Manager at Bumi Hijau (U) limited. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
As an exhibitor at the Expo, Amy Laksman – manager at Bumi Hijau (U) limited told Umoja Standard that as well as organic farming is the ultimate way to go in the entire agricultural value chain, there is need for government to lay a favorable ground for players to benefit.
“We go through bulky bureaucracy to see our products approved. We seek government to give us/organic farmers tax holidays for us to first stabilize in our businesses”. Amy said.
She mentioned that organic agriculture plays several roles ranging from restoration of the environment and because of this, it would sound well if we are given incentives to encourage our actions.
The first ever Agroecological Market Systems Expo (AMASE) that was convened in Uganda is organized under the theme “Unlocking Barriers and Opportunities for Scaling Up Agroecological Entrepreneurship and Territorial Market Development”.