Harness opportunities both on and off the farm: Official Graduation Message from the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries at the 21st Graduation Ceremony of Nkumba University

On the 27th of October 2018, Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Sempijja the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries officiated at the 21st Graduation ceremony of Nkumba University in Entebbe as Chief Guest.

Hon. Sempijja was hosted by the University leadership led by the Chancellor Prof. Gordon Wavamunno and Professor Wilson Muyinda Mande the Vice Chancellor and delivered a message to the 21st cohort of graduands.

Above: Hon. Sempijja in a group photo with the University leadership led by the Chancellor Prof. Gordon Wavamunno and Professor Wilson Muyinda Mande the Vice Chancellor at the end of the 21st graduation ceremony of Nkumba University.

As one of the alumni of this Nkumba University, Hon. Sempijja expressed gratitude to the University leadership that is under the Chancellorship of Prof. Gordon Wavamunno and Professor Wilson Muyinda Mande the Vice Chancellor for steering Nkumba forward.

Hon. Sempijja noted that Government is committed to creating jobs for the fast-growing youthful population as a priority that is captured in the theme of the 2016-2021 Manifesto of the NRM which is “Taking Uganda to Modernity through job-creation and inclusive development.”

An excerpt of the Minister’s message aimed at encouraging graduands to join in creating jobs and engaging in agribusiness is as follows.

“While agriculture is considered as one of the main sectors for the creation of more jobs, government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and other Ministries has developed the following solutions to the main challenges faced by fresh graduates in trying to create jobs for themselves and others in the sector.

The first and most pressing challenge was the lack of accessible financing for start-ups, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as large scale production.

This was addressed in part by the establishment of the Agricultural Credit Facility that is managed by Bank of Uganda through the Commercial Banks, the Youth Livelihood Fund through the Gender Ministry and the current efforts to capitalise the Uganda Development Bank (UDB).

These are aimed at providing finance for development of enterprises in agriculture.

Despite this provision of financing, we noted with great concern, the lack of interest among the youth and fresh graduates in agriculture.

This was majorly an issue of mindset and awareness which government is addressing.

We discovered that the youth and fresh graduates were shunning agriculture mainly due to the perception that agriculture is all about on-farm production which seemed less attractive to the youth.

To counter this, Government has invested largely in addressing the major challenges to on-farm production, especially the lack of affordable agricultural mechanisation and water for agricultural production.

As I speak before you today, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries now has a newly-instituted Department of Agricultural Infrastructure, Mechanisation and Water for Agricultural Production that works closely with the Ministry of Water, Ministry of Works and local government to close this gap in the agricultural sector.

A national policy on irrigation and mechanisation is also underway to reinforce availability and access to mechanisation and water for agricultural production.

While these steps are aimed at enhancing on-farm production and productivity, Government has also developed a 5-year strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture with the main objective of identifying and providing entry points for the youth along the value chain, both on and off the farm.

This Strategy which was developed by Government is hinged on 5 thematic areas including:

  1. Strengthening the Enabling Framework for Youth Employment
  2. Supporting Youth-Oriented Agricultural Extension
  3. Improving Youth Education and Learning
  4. Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship and
  5. Adaption to and Mitigation of Agribusiness Risks and Uncertainties

Government is taking a multi-sectoral approach for the implementation of this strategy through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, the National Planning Authority (NPA) among others.

While this strategy is aimed at creation of jobs for the youth, government is engaging more investors and private sector players to create more jobs for both the graduates who are youth and those above 35 years of age.

In addition to that, Government, with the leadership of His Excellency the President, has promoted the establishment of agro-processing centers, industrial parks and incubation centers for agribusiness start-ups and SMEs.

The development of these centers has been backed with massive investment in infrastructure and electricity with the national grid currently supplying over 1000 GigaWatts.

While these interventions are attracting favourable growth and financing, a major challenge that was arising for our entrepreneurs was the challenge of difficulty in accessing market for the agricultural products.

I wish to inform you ladies and gentlemen that Uganda is receiving increased demand for the agricultural products that we produce for the regional and international market.

It is because of this kind of demand that Uganda has been selected to co-host this year’s China International Agricultural Trade Fair in the Hunan province of the People’s Republic of China.

We are the only country in Africa that has been given this platform with a day set aside as “Uganda day.”

I will be leading a delegation 20 entrepreneurs from more than 16 Companies in Uganda to that international Fair at the Changsha International Conference and Exhibition Center from the 1st to the 5th of November 2018.

The kind of attention and increased demand that we are receiving should remind all of us that agribusiness is still economically dependable and for that reason, worth the engagement of our fresh graduates, from certificate to PhD level.”

Fast population growth comes with new opportunities

Hon. Sempijja urged the graduands to look at the fast-growing population of our country as a source of opportunities rather than challenges, given that the population of Uganda which was slightly over 33 million people in 2013 now stands at an estimated 44 million people in a space of about 5 years.

Above: Hon. Vincent Sempijja marked his visit to the University where he is one of the alumni with the planting of a tree near the Administrative Offices.

According to the Minister, the fast population growth shows that the need and market for food and agricultural products is and will continue to grow.

Government, through the Agriculture Ministry, has stepped up awareness of the process of registration and acquiring certificates for dealing in export of agricultural commodities and the guidelines for this are availed through the media and now on the official website of the Ministry, that is agriculture.go.ug.

Above: Hon. Sempijja addressing the media on the sidelines of the Graduation Ceremony in Nkumba.

Notes for editors

Below are additional details for editors.

About the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is a Ministry in the Government of Uganda charged with creating an enabling environment in the Agricultural Sector.

The Ministry formulates, reviews and implement national policies, plans, strategies, regulations and standards and enforce laws, regulations and standards along the value chain of crops, livestock and fisheries.

Vision: A competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector.

Mission: To transform subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.

See strategic objectives here.

See Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan here.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is made up of four Directorates including the Directorate of Crop Resources, Directorate of Animal Resources, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services and the Directorate of Fisheries Resources each with Departments, Divisions and Partnership Projects.

The Departments of the Ministry which do not fall directly in the above include the Department of Agricultural Planning and Development, the Human Resource Department, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Agricultural Infrastructure, Mechanisation and Water for Agricultural Production.

The Ministry is also made up of seven Agencies including the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Cotton Development Organisation (CDO), Dairy Development Authority (DDA), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and Coordinating Office for the Control of Trypanosomiasis in Uganda (COCTU) and the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC&DB).

Agricultural sector Courses in Nkumba University 

Nkumba University currently offers courses in Agribusiness at Diploma and Degree level, Sustainable Agriculture and Extension at Degree, Diploma and Certificate level, Fisheries Management and Technology at Diploma and Degree level, Wildlife and Forestry Management at Degree and Diploma level, Masters in Natural Resource Management and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Environment and Impact Assessment