Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Minister, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja is expected to deliver a keynote address at the expo aimed at showcasing the latest technologies aimed at increasing agricultural production.
ENGSOL works more as a partner, building long term relationships, rather than just as a supplier says Ian Walker one of the sponsors of the free entry expo.
More than two thousand agriculture professionals from East Africaare expected to meet at the National Crop Resources Institute beginning November 29th for the agribusiness Congress East Africa.
The two-day congress will feature more than 45 exhibitors, provide free training workshops for farmers and also offer agronomy consultations. Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Minister, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja is expected to deliver a keynote address at the expo aimed at showcasing the latest technologies aimed at increasing agricultural production.
Experts are also expected to participate in round table discussions as well as offer live demonstrations and crop trials. Chris Kaijuka, the chairman of The Grain Council of Uganda says he is looking forward to the Agribusiness Congress East Africa developing into a platform that enables business to business engagement leading to actual sales.
The event is partly hosted by MAS CORPORATION LTD commonly known as Mascor Uganda. Martin Kusel, Mascor's Uganda Country Manager says Uganda is the Promised Land for agriculture. He says many opportunities exist and that commercial farming has great potential in Uganda. Martin Kusel however says the agriculture sector in Uganda still faces a number of challenges like "all talk and no action principle", cost of financing, fertilizer quality, seed quality and quantity among others.
“Our focus is to provide Ugandan farmers with the latest global technologies. We provide solutions for the very basic needs and have capability to the very sophisticated user. We have the range and capability to do just this,” he said. Jon McLea, the Director, Agricona session chairman at Agribusiness Congress East Africa, said theland tenure and affordable finance are the major challenges to expanding and developing the agri sector.
"Current interest rates put enormous stress on agribusiness and are often prohibitive. We need to look at novel ways to finance the agri sector, and get around using land as collateral. Fortunately we are starting to see special purpose funds enter the market space, offering new opportunities for those looking to raise finance, be it for working capital or infrastructure,” said Jon McLea.
At a regional level, George Magai, the Director Trade and Markets at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa, blamed the slow growth of agriculture on what he called "misplaced policies".
"There is a need to harmonize our policies so as to improve intra-regional trade and thereby create a better environment for trade and regional markets." said George Magai.
Dr. Juliana Rwelamira, the Managing Director Sasakawa Africa Association, Ethiopia and speaker at the event says there is need to invest more money in commercializing small-holder agriculture in East Africa and Ethiopia.
According to Dr. Rwelamira, the main challenges facing the agriculture sector in Ethiopia and East Africa include bad agronomic practices, too much focus on inorganic fertilizer use without similar focus for the use of organics which help to rejuvenate the soil and lack of specific fertilizer recommendations.
The organizers say visitors to the expo will not pay entry fee as part of the efforts to allow more people to learn from experts coming from East Africa and parts of Southern Africa countries.