The Ambassador met with CTA director, Michael Hailu and colleagues on 5 March 2015. Michael Hailu briefed her about CTA’s key priority areas and work programme as well as explained the Centre’s move to working on regional business plans from 2015. In addition, colleagues discussed possible areas of collaboration with Uganda.
H.E. Mrs. Blaak Sow spoke very highly of the work done by CTA in helping agricultural and rural development in ACP countries, and especially commended its approach of using ICTs in favour of agriculture. In her opinion, CTA can help Ugandan agriculture maximize its yet untapped potential.
Agriculture and its potential for Uganda’s economic growth
In fact, more than 75% of the country is available for both cultivation and pasture. “Ugandan land is extremely fertile. On top of that, we have regular rainfall the whole year round. Sometimes farmers can harvest up to three times in one year.” She said. “We attach a lot of value to an organisation such as CTA”, she added, alluding to project proposals which are currently underway. “For example, ICT solutions, including satellite communications, can assist farmers in knowing when they have to plant their seeds and in forecasting weather patterns. That is very important for us.”
The next challenge: adding value to agricultural products
Alongside relations with technical agricultural organisations such as CTA, Uganda’s agricultural development policy includes developing modern value chains and ensuring value addition to agricultural products. “Instead of exporting dried coffee beans, we should add value by roasting them, putting them into bags, and ensuring that we can place finished products on the shelves of whichever country we are selling them to.”
Today, agriculture figures prominently on Uganda’s development agenda. “About 80% of all people employed in Uganda work in the agricultural sector. Our economy is advancing through agriculture. It is the number one priority in our development policy”.