The CBS Pewosa trade fair has come of age but it is about time to change approach, writes DAVID LUMU.
For the past one week from March 27 up to April 3, Muteesa II Memorial grounds at Wankulukuku has been buzzing with endless activity at the annual CBS Pewosa trade fair. Now in its fifth edition, what started as a farming expo has evolved into a marketplace of sorts to include everything you can think of at a fete.
Initially, organisers wanted to tap into a new wave of ‘corporate farming’ through the display of state-of-the-art technology and improved yields but the increased demand for other products has left the farming aspect fighting for its place in the trade fair.
When The Observer visited the place on Saturday, it was a bevy of activity. Nearly all exhibiting stalls were booked and the mammoth turnout made it almost impossible to pinpoint one’s preferred station.
Unlike most trade fairs and expos, this is an all-inclusive exhibition enough to attract the most ordinary of persons. Some have dubbed the trade fair as the common man’s expo.
For just Shs 4,000 as entry fee, organisers didn’t want to leave anyone behind and it was no surprise the venue was filled to the brim. The business workshops, which mainly focus on farming, remain popular and operated almost non-stop due to multiple bookings.
On a personal note, Julius Nyanzi’s step-by-step guide to making home-made organic pesticides to protect Matoke was an eye-opener to spending less for big gains.
Meanwhile, watching Dr Herbert Mukiibi’s do-it-yourself technique of making silage and farm feeds from cassava peelings was quite uplifting. He made farming look simple and cheap if one dedicates time and effort.
Away from the workshops, it was encouraging to see an array of government institutions like KCCA, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Uganda Retirement and Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) eager to teach the public about essentials such as taxation of farming and retirement planning respectively.
In the main grounds, farmers, craft makers and small-scale innovators exhibited varieties of plants and farming equipment but it was the sellers of seedlings that attracted most people.
Students and school-going children had a memorable time gaining first-hand knowledge about some plants and animals, not to mention the all-round entertainment provided by musicians and comedians.
However, due to the congestion all around, it was a real hassle to carry purchases out of the venue, whose parking area was messy to say the least.
The rainy weather played its part to make some parts of the ground soggy but that didn’t seem to bother showgoers, many of whom indulged in bingeing and partying. This merrymaking would go on till late amid tight security.
The Observer interviewed several exhibitors who expressed satisfaction with how business went about. However, there was also a growing feeling that the show needs to be extended longer or be put in a more expansive place.
Indeed, the Pewosa trade fair seems to have outgrown Wankulukuku. It is perhaps time to rethink the approach.