The Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) has started training urban dwellers in the oil region to engage in urban farming and backyard gardening.
The first training involving 40 persons including 50% women was launched yesterday (Monday) at Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Headquarters in Hoima City.
While speaking on behalf of the UNOC Executive Director, Ms Stella Marie Biwaga who is a Board Member at UNOC, said it is part of their efforts to promote participation of Ugandans in the Albertine region to meaningfully participate in the oil industry.
She is convinced that improved production by using small pieces of land to produce both for feeding and marketing is the way to go.
Ms Biwaga explained that UNOC has contracted Stanbic Business Incubator to conduct the five-day training of the first group that will be expected to train others in their respective areas of residence.
The 40 youths to be trained have been selected from 15 counties in Bunyoro Kitara kingdom.
Earlier, UNOC, in collaboration with Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba (UPIK) trained 25 youths from the Albertine region and those along the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) corridor in welding and fabrication to prepare them for opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
Mr Andrew Kirungi Byakutaaga, the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Premier, appreciated UNOC for responding to their request for that training which targeted the youth population.
He encouraged the trainees to exercise discipline and pay attention in the five days of the training.
The Prime Minister challenged the kingdom subjects to be hard working in this era of money economy and the oil developments if they are to compete favourably and realise economic development.
“I wonder when I find people sitting at trading centres in the morning hours! That is setting a bad example. I challenge you to be role models in our region through hard work,” he said.
Mr Aggrey Mugume, the National Content Officer at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), assured farmers of the growing market for their produce in the oil industry as oil related activities increase.
He also revealed the government plan to build warehouses in the Albertine region to ensure safe and sure storage of agricultural produce for farmers.
The officer re-emphasised the issue of standards and acquisition of legal status for companies and accreditation by the National Supplier Database (NSD) as crucial in the oil industry goods and services supply.
Ms Lucy Tusiime, a member of Birungu Farmers Association in Kitoba sub-county, Hoima district expressed the need for capital to procure irrigation pumps to avoid dependence on unpredictable rains.
Mr Richard Male, a member of Kayunga Youths Development Group, hopes the training will help them to improve their capacity and meet the required standards and quantity.
Mr Tony Atoa, the Chief Executive Officer at Stanbic Business Incubator, said the training will be conducted at their centre in Bujumbura, Hoima city.
He said they will pay attention to promoting the use of organic fertilisers and pesticides which lead to better standards.
The use of small pieces of land common in urban areas to grow food for domestic consumption and income will be another area of focus.
Mr Atoa said that their partner Pure Grow will take charge of purchasing their produce linking them to markets.