Agricultural experts call for regional agro-processing incubators

In Summary
  • Agribusiness innovation incubators  seen to boost creation of jobs 
  • Establishment of such centers across all regions focusing on crops grown in a region
  • Potential is not only in the production side but also in value addition 
From left to right,Dr. Wilberforce Tushemereirwe,Dr.Antonio Querido,Apollo Ssegawa,Winnie Lawoko-Olwe(extreme right) alongside youth award winners
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

Stakeholders in agro-processing are calling for the establishment of agricultural innovation hubs regionally in the country.

Apollo Ssegawa, the executive Director of CURAD, an agribusiness innovation incubator geared towards creation of jobs and boosting incomes, made the remarks during the 7th annual national agribusiness challenge awards ceremony in Namanve industrial park.

‘This is our annual event to attract entrepreneurs from across the country to start their entrepreneurship journey using the incubation model and today right here where we have our horticulture handling, drying and packaging facilities to expose the young people to what is available at CURAD.’

One of the awardees receiving her cheque
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

“Our model works with common user facilities and equipment to inspire them with the little they have and now we need this model to go across the country. We believe that the zonal approach to not only commodities but value addition is the way to go.”Ssegawa added.

According to Ssegawa , what government needs to do is to support the establishment of such centres across all regions focussing on the crops that are grown in that region so that young people, farmers and entrepreneurs in that region can access them and add value.

Dr. Wilberforce Tushemereirwe, Director of Research at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories of NARO.
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

The Guest of Honour, Dr. Wilberforce Tushemereirwe, Director of Research at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories of NARO, tipped the young entrepreneurs on seven success factors including; having competitive ideas, be proactive, have proper business plan to qualify for funding or for expansion, develop marketing strategies, excellent packaging and 100 percent focus on their enterprises.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Uganda Country Representative, Mr Antonio Querido noted that there is a huge potential for Uganda’s agricultural sector to attract the youth and the need for them to see it as a sector that is viable and that money can be made.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Uganda Country Representative, Mr Antonio Querido
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

“We want them (youth) to realise that the potential is not only in the production side but also the value addition sector. It all starts with an idea and for us as partners is to see how these ideas can be turned into a profitable business but also to contribute to Uganda’s economy.” Querido added.

The Uganda Investment Authority is at the heart of promoting investment both big and  small and their role in supporting youth enterprises is best defined by their funding priorities according to UIA, Director of SME’s, Winnie Lawoko-Olwe.

Guest on a tour of the facility
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

‘If you look at funding compared to the number of SMEs in the economy the funding is a small drop.’ What UIA has come up with is a very strategic and deliberate way to scale up its facilitation of the SME’s and domestic investors. Today a number of women, youth and small businesses have benefitted from our direct linkage in our program,’she said.

According to Lawoko-Olwe, they do the multiplier effect, to support strategic regional cluster formations, looking at the sector and key ones especially the agriculture sector with focus on vegetables and the coffee value chains, processing and import substitution but also export orientation, she noted.

The event saw twelve young people receive awards in innovation. 

Staff attending to a potato drying machine
Image: Edwin Muhumuza