“Relationship between agriculture, tourism and ICT in creating opportunities”

The South African High Commissioner to Uganda, Her Excellency Lulama Xingwana, recently addressed young people on opportunities in agriculture during a one-on-one session organized by the MTN Youth Training Program under the theme: Relationships business for lasting partnerships.

Below are the excerpts. Uganda is among the top coffee producers in the world, hence my surprise to find that there is no Ugandan coffee in South Africa. I would like to believe that currently coffee is Uganda’s best kept secret.

I don’t know if you are able to sell it or export it, but I think you have the opportunity to do more. For example, we don’t produce coffee in South Africa but we love to drink it. Therefore, there is a ripe market for coffee growers in Uganda to take advantage of in South Africa.

However, to do this Ugandan coffee farmers need to move beyond subsistence farming and towards commercial farming with the capacity to undertake agribusiness. Young farmers should look for opportunities in agribusiness, which will help them develop their markets from local or regional to international.

Selling fresh fruits and vegetables has its limitations, but selling processed fruits and vegetables is more profitable in the form of fruit juice or tomato paste which lasts longer and can reach a larger export market, thus making your products more profitable thanks to the added value.

I am aware of the challenges of limited capital which hampers the ability of farmers to expand their operations to large-scale operations and the large capital requirements for agribusiness.

Spie Small Dream Big

However, it is important to remember that Rome was not built in a day. We all start small, but we must have the vision and ambition to start small but grow and eventually move into commercial farming and export industry.

This will greatly contribute to the Ugandan economy. More importantly, the need to grow your business underpins the importance of building business relationships for lasting partnerships.

I am aware that MTN is interested in supporting agriculture and especially agro-industrial businesses. It is therefore up to you to seize this opportunity as young farmers.

Business relationships for lasting partnerships

Strong partnerships with banks such as Stanbic, Absa and multinationals are important and can help you grow your business. Donors can also help in this regard.

It is for these reasons that keeping good reports and audited financial statements is essential and will help you develop the trust of your donors or partners (eg Danida, Sida, etc.). Partnerships aren’t designed just for businesses, you can leverage a relationship with individuals as well.

The introduction of agreements such as the African Continental Free Trade Area has opened up a market of 1.4 billion (i.e. Africa’s population) for African farmers.

Currently, African countries mainly export to Asia, Europe and other continents, but trade between Africans is still 15%. Intra-African trade is still very low, presenting an opportunity to harness sustainable partnerships among African farmers.

It is up to our youth to seize this opportunity. I know Ugandans love goats, nyama ye mbuzi. We also have a lot of goats in South Africa, so Ugandans can buy goats from South Africa and we can buy your pineapples, papayas or coffee.

This is how we can start these partnerships. Farmers in Uganda can partner with farmers in South Africa so that we import and export between our countries, thereby increasing intra-African trade and growing the economies of our countries and the continent.

Through these same partnerships, young Ugandan farmers can compare themselves to South African farmers who are already working in agribusiness and have the experience and the equipment or machinery needed for such projects.

Agritourism

There is also a direct correlation between commercial agriculture and other sectors. Commercial agriculture can be the springboard for other sectors, such as tourism and ICT, to prosperity. Through agritourism, a concept defined as a tourism program that covers farming and agricultural areas where tourists can see local products and often participate in agricultural activities, Uganda can increase the number of tourists visiting the country.

A common occurrence in South Africa, providing additional income to farmers and contributing to our economy, agritourism, particularly in wine production, has proven profitable for the country’s local farmers and tourism sector.

In Cape Town, we have transformed wine and wine farms into great tourist destinations. People want to see where that bottle of South African wine was produced. They go to Stellenbosch or Franchoek for a wine tasting, they buy wine and stay there and experience the way of life on the wine farms.

Wine farms and wine tasting have contributed a lot to tourism and our economy. Why can’t we do Coffee Tasting and Farm Holidays in Uganda Coffee Farms? This way, more people will buy and import Ugandan coffee.

Therefore, I appeal to you my dear young people who have been trained to nurture your entrepreneurial spirit to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming.

TIC

Growth in the agriculture and tourism sectors can also directly impact the ICT sector. There has been a proliferation of innovations in the technological space created with the aim of filling gaps such as the lack of market for agricultural products and the need for essential knowledge in agriculture.

There are also vast opportunities for ICTs in the tourism sector, such as travel applications, links to in-country accommodation, marketing of agricultural farms and local experience to the outside world.

It is even better now that the AU has embraced the Fourth Industrial Revolution led by our President, His Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa. MTN and Multichoice are major players in this sector and will support such projects. I also know that as young people you love this sector.

I therefore call on all our young people to look into this area and develop projects that will empower young people and create jobs in the country.

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