President Yoweri Museveni has called upon the government of Vietnam to cooperate with Uganda in research and value addition in order for the two countries to reap big from agriculture, a sector benefiting billions of people in food security and income generation.
Speaking on Friday in Vietnam, Museveni noted that previously, countries, especially in Africa, produced raw materials for others to benefit, giving an example of cotton grown by Uganda, Egypt, Ghana and sold to the British who later became 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 global value of coffee is 460Bn dollars, but all the coffee producing countries-Uganda, Vietnam, Colombia, Brazil, we are earning 25Bn dollars from the 460Bn. Then Africa earns only 2.5Bn dollars. This is criminal,” he said.
“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 the Ugandan cotton with some polyester from outside. So, this is why I want us to cooperate. Stop producing raw materials for Europe,” he added.
On 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 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.
The minister in charge of Vietnam’s Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Mr Nguyen Hoang Hiep, welcomed Museveni to his Ministry and expressed optimism in the recent agreement with Uganda on scientific and technical cooperation in agriculture and research.
Mr Hoang Hiep said he is looking forward to cooperating with Uganda in areas of 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, ICT, Finance, Trade and Foreign Affairs.