Nakasongola group



Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in mid-August 2019 disseminated the Business Climate Index (BCI) results following the Western and Central Uganda Business Climate Assessment. The events were held at Kolping Hotel in Masindi and Norena Hotel in Naksongola on August 13 and 16, respectively. The participants of the workshops comprised of policy makers (District chairperson and other Local government officials), farmers and local business community.

The purpose of the workshop was to disseminate the findings of the research on the business environment in Western and Central Uganda for the different quarters of the year 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. It was expected that all stakeholders listen in and provide more ground information regarding the business climate in their respective areas. Alongside the BCI report, was the Agro-industrialization (AGI) report, which was also presented with focus on the major crops/enterprises in the selected regions.

The two workshops made observations, recommendations on key issues that emerged from the presentation of BCI including that research should be carried out on the effect of informal trade going on between Uganda, and Eastern DR Congo since the latter is one of the major importers of Bunyoro’s local commodities.

Other emerging issues were that Security should be one of the indicators captured when computing the business climate index, poor infrastructure is hindering market access for agriculture produce and that sugarcane growing in Masindi had become a threat to food security, as farmers are no longer interested in growing food crops other than sugarcane to supply Kinyara sugar factory.

Following insightful presentations by EPR research fellows Mr. Paul Lakuma and Dr. Brian Serunjogi, participants pointed out that the business community lacks training on how best to carry out business and make better profits and also expressed concern that substandard products put on the market do out compete the genuine ones since they are sold at a lower price for example organic honey is sometimes mixed with soda and then put on the market and sold at a lower price.

The delegates further argued that there is need to improve the quality of products to attract better prices and blamed high taxes, limited access to affordable credit and water for production for hindering business from performing to full potential.

More concerns were raised about proliferation of fake products including animal vaccines and herbicides on the market, which adversely affect agriculture. The members called for stringent measures to prevent the unabated circulation of fake chemicals. Participants suggested that research and assessment should look beyond business establishments and consider commercial farmers arguing that businesses might be doing well at the expense of farmers.

There are very many business opportunities in different districts in western Uganda like Cocoa growing in Bundibugyo, Industrial and national parks and coffee growing in Kasese, maize growing in Masindi.

Regarding AGI, participants suggested interventions to foster a sustainable agro-industrialization program through revival of cooperatives, which entails farmers organizing themselves in groups to increase output, ease access to credit, value addition, and increase their bargaining power. Putting more emphasis on practical skills geared towards Agro-industrialization and Vocational schools need more support and equitable distribution across the country.

The workshop as well called for enumeration of producers of different crops to establish who the farmers are, farming practices they are using, and how much they produce. This in turn informs interventions such as opening up of factories in a given region.

It was also suggested by members that enterprise selection should be based on land holdings and soil type. For instance, sugar cane growing cannot be prioritized in a region where the average land holding is 2 acres per person.

Farmers in the workshop challenged government to increase funding for the agriculture sector in line with the 2014 Malabo Declaration, which recommends 10% of the national budget for agriculture financing, having in place mitigation measures for natural shocks affecting the sector, scaling up of irrigation and adaptation of improved inputs. There is also need to invest in risk management and scale up agriculture insurance, participants contended.

 Also proposed was the zoning of the country according to prominent enterprises and climatic conditions. Historically, there are particular crops that can be attached to each region. For instance, Masaka and Kayunga are known for coffee growing. The gathering advised that before any intervention, there is need to gather sufficient information about the sector and the target group to determine the practicability of the interventions. There is also need for thorough sensitisation of the farmers prior to any intervention

Participants stressed that   government should stop fragmenting its interventions but rather consolidate its efforts to realize better outcomes.