President Yoweri Museveni has called upon the government of Vietnam to cooperate with Uganda in research and value addition for the two countries to reap big from Agriculture, a sector benefiting billions of people in food security and income generation.
H.E Museveni noted that previously, countries, especially in Africa, produced raw materials for others to benefit, giving an example of cotton grown by Uganda, Egypt, and Ghana and sold to the British who later became the biggest producers of textiles.
He said the same should change with coffee, where coffee-producing countries are getting little from their sweat. Uganda is producing 80 million bags of coffee not far from Vietnam which produces 11 million bags.
“For instance, Vietnam and Uganda are producing coffee. The production of coffee in the world is 160 kg bags and the value of coffee is 460 billion dollars, but in all the coffee producing countries-Uganda, Vietnam, Colombia, and Brazil, we are earning 25 billion dollars from the 460 billion. Then Africa earns only 2.5 billion dollars. This is criminal,” President Museveni said, adding that, one of the struggles has been the value addition and has started working in some countries, Uganda inclusive.
“I want us to cooperate on the issue of value addition. The shirt I’m putting on is a very good example. It is a Ugandan-produced shirt from Ugandan cotton with some polyester on the outside. So, this is why I want us to cooperate. Stop producing raw materials for Europe,” Mr Museveni said.
In research, Gen Museveni gave an example of 10 million metric tons Uganda produces every year, saying it’s still low because the 10 million tons is from the old methods of production which gives us 5.3 tons per hectare.
“But our research people have been able to produce 53 tonnes per hectare. I hear that in Brazil they have got 80 tonnes per hectare. So that idea of more yields per acre should be emphasized,” Museveni said.
He further called for technical assistance on how to successfully grow rice without injuring the environment like in Uganda.
“Our people eat rice but we don’t grow enough of it. And the one we grow is causing me a lot of problems because it is grown in wetlands. What they call wetlands in Uganda are not wetlands but tributaries of River Nile and when you grow rice there, you cause environmental problems,” the president further noted, adding that Uganda will send its people to get knowledge on successfully growing rice on dry land.
“And how do we get a good variety of upland rice so that anybody who wants to grow rice in Uganda, doesn’t grow it in the water but on dry land? I don’t even mind if it is irrigated rice but off the river,” H.E Museveni said.
In 2021, the production volume of rice paddies in Vietnam amounted to approximately 43.9 million metric tons. This indicated a slight increase of around 2.6 per cent compared to the previous year. Vietnam is among the leading rice-producing and exporting countries worldwide.
The minister in charge of Vietnam’s Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Mr Nguyen Hoang Hiep, welcomed H.E Museveni to his Ministry and expressed optimism in the recent agreement with the government of Uganda on scientific and technical cooperation in agriculture and research.
Mr Hoang Hiep said he is looking forward to cooperating with Uganda in among other areas; Genetic diversity studies and plant breeding, Plant microorganisms and pathogens, Spatial land use and cover changes, Adaptation of agriculture to climate change, Smart agriculture and smart village and Agricultural technology transfer and extension.
“With favourable climatic conditions and fertile soils, Vietnam considers Uganda’s agricultural potential to be among the best in Africa, he said.
Gen Museveni was in the company of his Minister in charge of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries Hon Frank Tumwebaze, Dr Chris Baryomunsi (ICT & National Guidance), Matia Kasaija (Finance) and Gen Jeje Odongo (Foreign Affairs). Others were; the permanent secretary Ministry of ICT Ms Aminah Zawedde and the Executive Director of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof Mary Okwakol.
Earlier, the President and the Ugandan delegation visited the FPT Corporation, the largest information technology company in south Asia with 60,000 engineers with branches in 28 countries with hopes to open an African branch in Uganda.