SEATINI Uganda launches project to support Agro-based SMEs

SEATINI-Uganda last week launched a project to enhance the competitiveness of Agro-based SMEs in Uganda.

At the launch, Cleopas Ndorere, the assistant commissioner SMEs directorate at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and cooperatives said food processing and value addition is the way to go to for SMEs in this sector.

He urged them to incorporate competitiveness along the value chain while the government does it part in supporting them to realize new markets.

Africa Kiiza, programme Officer Trade Policies and Negotiations at SEATINI-Uganda said less than 40 per cent of SMEs in the country have access to bank loans, 80 per cent are unserved or underserved by financial institutions with a high interest rate of 24 percent per annum.

John Walugembe, the executive director Federation of Small and Medium asked SMEs to be more competitive, innovative, and empowered with skills and knowledge in order to have a fair share of the markets within the region.

Waswa Joseph, from the Food Technology Business Incubation centre at Makerere University called upon SME owners to take advantage of the skills offered especially in the food processing sector at the institution and that the project will be helpful in enhancing the products.

“Many SMEs have the capacity however, the SME programme run at the school can better equip them with all the necessary knowledge needed from the processing level until final production”, he said.

Kawule Jooga, the head of membership Uganda Small Scale Industries said that the new project shouldn’t seek out new policies but merely make use of the existing ones. He wondered why most SMEs try so hard to penetrate foreign markets yet they haven’t exhausted that available locally.

Dr Birungi Korutaro, a team Leader at Kilimo Trust said: “More actors are needed on board like donors with very clear objectives especially harmonising the support of SMEs. We need to look at cross cutting issues across all sectors like electricity availability which is a major hindrance to the growth of SME agro-processors. SMEs also need to select products in which they can be competitive like maize and beans which are abundant in the local market”

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