Experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and oil companies including Total E&P Uganda and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) have advised farmers in the oil rich Albertine Graben to ensure that they produce internationally acceptable standard products to enable them access market in the oil industry.
Concluding the Agriculture Development Project (ADP) – a pilot project on how smallholder farmers in the Albertine Graben can be enabled to reap from the oil sector, MAAIF Senior Agribusiness Officer, Abdul Mugisha, said the ministry deemed it practical to start the project that will empower smallholder and medium enterprise farmers to tap from the oil and gas industry.
Mr Mugisha said the hands on project clearly trained and prepared farmers to observe international standards in the production of their output so that it can be consumed by the looming workforce that will be employed in the various sub-sectors that will come with the oil industry in the Albertine oil belt.
The agribusiness officer added that evaluation of the project will be conducted to determine whether it can be extended to other districts since it has been in its pilot stage.
Mr Mugisha added that with the Hoima International Airport – a mega economic infrastructure and road network being constructed, there is need for farmers to be active in their practice to feed the future employee s in the oil and gas industry.
Speaking during a meeting held at Hoima Buffalo (HB) Hotel in Hoima City, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Oil and Gas, Dr Frederick Kaliisa Kabagambe, said save for the local market, once farmers in the region conform to the international set standards, they will go an extra mile of accessing an international market for their products.
He said by observing the standards and targeting a wider spectrum, farmers in the oil Albertine region will ably export their produce to other countries using the existing opportunities of foreign experts as a springboard to their increased income through a diversity of agriculture practices with a bias in the food sector.
Ms Rosette Komugisha, the National Content Lead at Total E&P Uganda, assured farmers that oil companies operating in the Albertine valley are committed to consuming their products as long as they adhere to the set scientific standards in the production of their food.
She said while producing their food, farmers must ensure that they observe qualitative and quantitative consistence besides setting a standard price that will keep them supplying to the oil companies.
Ms Brenda Bitagase, a piggery farmer from Bujumbura cell in Hoima city testified how she is reaping bigger from her project with the guidance from Self Help Africa (SHA) – the project implementers contrary to the past before enrolling with them.
The Self Help Africa Country Director, Engorok Obin, said the pilot project has helped and exposed the beneficiaries in the management of dairy farming, piggery and horticulture to provide the complete chain in production, demand, supply and consumption between farmers and the labour force once the oil industry starts operating to full capacity in the Albertine region.
The two-year ADP was implemented by Self Help Africa (SHA) on behalf of the Joint Venture Partners (JVP) including Total E&P Uganda and CNOOC in Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa and Nwoya districts with the goal of sustainable increase in food and nutrition security, incomes and employment for farmers and communities of the Albertine Graben.