TGCU Chairman Chris Kaijuka

Uganda will host a two-day Agribusiness Congress East Africa conference and exhibition, the Chairman of the Grain Council of Uganda (TGCU), Chris Kaijuka, has said.

The event will be held under the theme, ‘Identifying East Africa’s investment trends and outlooks for 2018’, with participants sharing knowledge aimed at addressing the pertinent issues that are hindering the EA community from growing into an agribusiness hub.

Organisers say the exhibition will help show case modern technology in form of machines like tractors and seeds among others to the farmers who are the targeted beneficiaries of the event.

Mr. Kaijuka says TGCU is the official host partner of the regional farming event, which will feature more than 1000 agribusiness participants, free training workshops and agronomy consultations, round-table discussions as well as live demonstrations and crop trials.

:  “My vision for the agri-sector is a national grain sector that supplies the region and is the preferred source of high-quality grain. There are opportunities in agriculture with our two seasons and a fast-growing population,” Mr. Kaijuka said of his role as chairman of TGCU.

He adds that the TGCU is pursuing affordable financing for infrastructure development and working capital for members.

“We look forward to the launch of the electronic trading on the Uganda National Commodity Exchange where we are shareholders,” he says.

The TGCG Chairman says Uganda has evolved into the new frontier for food and grain production and the region’s food basket. What is left, he says, is cooperation between players.

“We need to come together and take action to move the industry forward. We urge all industry players with a stake in agriculture to take advantage of this golden opportunity to meet with suppliers, buyers and technocrats and contribute to the development debate,” Mr. Kaijuka says.

Meanwhile, Tomson Okot, senior programme director at Farm Concern International, an Africa-wide agri-market development agency with keen interest in value chain analysis and market access, says there will be a panel discussion on identifying East Africa’s investment trends and outlooks for 2018.

“With an enormous potential of fertile soils and favourable climate, East Africa has a comparative advantage to produce several agricultural products, process and export as a food basket of the EAC-COMESA region,” he says.

Despite its potential, intra-East African Community trade is about US$5.63 billion, representing only 10 percent of the total trade on the continent.

Okot says East African exports of goods and services to the COMESA region and other countries is still low, citing limited market-led incentives, low commercialisation and subsistence agriculture in East Africa as barriers to trade.

“Access to competitive markets remains one of the major challenges facing smallholder farmers in East Africa. Specifically, smallholder farmers are constrained by the low level of commercialisation, multiple layers of predatory market players that reduce gross margins and limited access to market information,” Mr. Okot says.