Frank Kagyigyi Tumwebaze, the newly sworn-in Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), has pledged to use what he termed as a “proactive approach” in his duties where he intends to directly engage farmers on ministry policies.
Mr. Tumwebaze, who was formerly the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development said this on June 22 after taking office at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters in Entebbe.
“In this term, we will spend more time with the farmers in the fields than in conferences,” he said.
The handover ceremony, whose attendance was limited due to the COVID-19 protocols, was presided over by Mr. Pius Wakabi Kasajja, the ministry Permanent Secretary, in the presence of other senior ministry officials.
Tumwebaze, who also doubles as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kibale East in Kamwenge District, officially received the ministry instruments of power and authority that include the ministerial policy statement, the agricultural zoning policy and the agricultural business enterprise handbook, among other statutory documents.
In his remarks, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempiija, the outgoing minister, informed Tumwebaze that the agricultural sector recorded significant growth over the last five years despite the recent challenges such as the invasion of desert locusts in January, 2020, which were followed by the COVID-19 pandemic that slowed down the whole economy that resulted into wasted produce of bananas, eggs, milk and most recently market entry issues for Uganda’s maize products.
The Permanent Secretary, briefed the incoming Minister that the Agro-Industrialization Program, in which the Ministry of Agriculture plays a lead role, has key objectives such as; Increasing agricultural production and productivity of priority commodities to promote agro-industry; Improving post-harvest handling and storage of priority commodities, agro-processing and value addition of priority commodities; Increasing market access and competitiveness of agricultural products in domestic and international markets; Increasing the mobilisation, equitable access and utilization of agricultural finance and strengthening institutional coordination for improved service delivery.
“In order to commercialize agriculture, MAAIF under NDPIII, will focus on two main issues of making the agribusinesses more profitable and attractive for investment. These are; de-risking Agriculture enterprises at all levels and supporting the creation of adequate markets for various priority enterprises,” Mr. Kasajja said
Tumwebaze, in his inaugural remarks, applauded the previous leadership and the technical teams for the food security witnessed across the country of over 80% and encouraged them to work with the primary stakeholders, the farmers.
The Hon. Minister outlined the following priority areas in response to a public outcry and these included; animal and crop disease management, mechanization, efficient public private sector partnerships, evidence-based decision making, quality seed and indigenous seed conservation, government farm land use strategies and extensive farmer engagement.
“Having previously been the President of the Uganda National Farmers Federation, I am only coming back home. I am a straightforward person. And where I may not know I am a very fast learner and believe that together, we will align our sector to farmer needs and concerns and ultimately attain our socio-economic growth,” Tumwebaze said.
He pledged his commitment to deliver a cohesive leadership and a well-coordinated sector through listening, learning and providing able leadership as government goes into the implementation of the parish development model.