President Yoweri Museveni has asked the government of Vietnam to work 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.
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.
“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 all the coffee producing countries-Uganda, Vietnam, Colombia, Brazil, we are earning 25 billion dollars from the 460 billion. Then Africa earns only 2.5 billion dollars. This is criminal,” 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 the Ugandan cotton with some polyester from outside. So, this is why I want us to cooperate. Stop producing raw materials for Europe.”
Museveni was visiting Vietnam’s Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
On research, 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. That idea of more yields per acre should be emphasized.”
Museveni 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 actually not wetlands but tributaries of river Nile and when you grow rice there, you cause environmental problems.”
He revealed that Uganda will send its experts to Vietnam 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.”
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 percent 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 Nguyen Hoang Hiep welcomed Museveni to the ministry and expressed optimism in the recent agreement with the government of Uganda on scientific and technical cooperation in agriculture and research.
Hoang Hiep said he is looking forward to cooperating with Uganda in among others 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 favorable climatic conditions and fertile soils, Vietnam considers Uganda’s agricultural potential to be among the best in Africa, he said.
Museveni was in the company of his Minister for Agriculture, 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 Aminah Zawedde and the Executive Director of 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 the Africa branch in Uganda.