The recently-concluded exhibition at Namboole stadium grounds was a testament to Ugandans’ renewed vigour in farming but also exposed the increased reliance on imported – yet simple – farming technology, writes DAVID LUMU.
Over the last few weeks, the relentless hype surrounding the three-day Harvest Money Expo, which ended last Sunday, was quite irresistible for every stakeholder in farming or even a prospective farmer like myself.
I was personally curious to get first-hand information about tree farming and possibly get a kickstart on this venture.
It wasn’t until the last day that I found my way to Namboole, where more than 120 exhibitors were segmented around the facility grounds depending on speciality.
The place was busy throughout as thousands of showgoers moved up and about to purchase farming materials; right from seedlings that cost as low as Shs 3,000 to a Shs 100m tractor.
A quick circling around the venue exposed me to a variety of innovations in modern irrigation, coffee hulling, agroprocessing and poultry. For the commercially-oriented farmers, there were all kinds of machinery for uses from planting to harvesting.
Meanwhile, hundreds more crammed in four separate study rooms for special lectures on modern farming of fish, cattle, passion fruits and bananas, among others.
Even several government entities such as Bank of Uganda, seized the opportunity to educate the public. Incidentally, there were no fun activities associated with such events but that didn’t seem to bother anyone. It was purely business and this was evidenced by the absence of school children or beer companies.
You simply had to know what you came for and where to get it; no distractions. “I’m so glad about this expo because it has helped us talk to the right people that need our products,” said Ian Walker from Engineering Solutions, which amazingly sold six tractors.
Amidst this entire buzz, however, I came to the realisation that there were very few youths. For a country with one of the biggest youth populations in the world, I found it unfortunate that the future generation was not well represented yet Uganda’s economy greatly depends on agriculture.
Then again, I also observed the domestic lack of creative innovations. Nearly every outstanding technology was imported into the country. For instance, there was a variety of modern irrigation equipment which I thought could be fabricated locally but none was from Uganda.
I knew there was something amiss when proponents of the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (Bubu) were absent. How the strategists from the ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives missed this is beyond understanding because I met several showgoers eager to buy something Ugandan.
On a personal note, I was greatly intrigued by tissue culture technique for micro propagation of bananas, which is spearheaded by Erostus Nsubuga’s Agro-genetic Technologies. This biotechnology of developing and multiplying bananas is made locally and I needed more of these at the expo.
I am sure it was a worthwhile experience in the eyes of exhibitors and of course, a massive success for New Vision, the organisers, as it fits well with those looking forward to commercial farming but the ordinary subsistence farmers should also not be left out.