08 Mar

President Yoweri Museveni has given a greenlight to New Holland, a company based in India, to construct a tractor assembling plant, in the country.

Museveni was responding to calls by the agriculture minister, Vincent Ssempijja, that the New Holland Company urgently wants a six-acre piece of land to set up a tractor assembling plant in Uganda.

By setting up the plant in the country, Museveni, who was on Thursday speaking at the launch of 12 heavy earth moving vehicles, 126 pick-ups for Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), 284 tractors for districts across the country and 1061 motorcycles for agricultural extension workers at Namalere Agricultural Mechanization Resource Centre in Wakiso district, said importation costs will be significantly reduced.

Some of the heavy machinery that the President launched and gave out to extension workers and CAO”s for agriculture transformation. This was at Namalere Agriculture Farm in Wakiso district on 07 March 2019. (Photo by Miriam Namutebi )

The President of New Holland, Vincent Lassagne, attended the launch of the tractors, and pledged to set up a tractor assembling factory in Uganda.

Commenting on the 284 tractors, Lassagne said service centres will be created to enable the districts maintain these tractors and also train district staff to ensure that they can maintain and repair the tractors.

Museveni said the country currently has 5, 000 tractors, which are not enough to match the urgent need for mechanisation of agriculture.

“The tractors are not as many as we need in the country. We only have 5,000 tractors in the country. But we can add more.

That is why I thank New Holland for the proposal to invest here and assemble these tractors,” he said, warning technocrats at the agriculture ministry against what he called the vice of not sensitizing farmers on the modern and good farming practices.

“If you sit on the knowledge and you don’t pass it to the population, you are causing yourselves problems,” he said.

President Museveni looks at some of the motorcycles at the launch and hand out of heavy machinery tractors, motor vehicles and motor cycles to agriculture extension workers for agriculture transformation. (Photo by Miriam Namutebi.)

By modernising agriculture, Museveni said, farmers will be able to come up with commercially viable income generating projects.

“Our statistics show that 68% of our people live outside the money economy, not because they are lazy but because they are practicing traditional agriculture methods. Modern farming methods should also be encouraged.

Beyond tractors, we have opened up a phosphate fertiliser factory in Tororo. There is need to use fertilisers but you must first study the type of soil you have. Government will also support irrigation efforts.

It is then that this equipment we are distributing will make sense as farmers adopt mechanised agriculture. We now have about 5, 000 tractors countrywide but we shall get more,” Museveni said.

Government with support from development partners spent sh45.7b on the equipment.

Fred Kiwanuka, the area LC1 chairperson of Namalere said the New Holland Company should build the assembling plant in Namalere in order to provide jobs for the youth in the area.

Eng Simon Peter Mugerwa, the New Holland technical manager said the company will repair and service the tractors at the respective districts.

“There will be no need to travel to Kampala. It will be just a call and then our team will drive to the location, and repair the tractors,” he said.

PS warns extension workers

The permanent secretary of the agriculture ministry, Pius Wakabi, has warned extension workers against misuse of the over 1, 000 motorbikes and other equipment that the president launched.

“The motorcycles and vehicles must be used for purposes for which they are intended. We have installed tracking devices in the equipment to make sure that they are not used outside the assigned working area,” he said.

Wakabi said the have trends of extension workers abandoning their assigned inspection duties to pursue unrelated activities.

“You either have to do your job or leave and we give it to other people,” he said.

The agriculture ministry recently recruited 3, 811 extension workers to help farmers across the country. The target is 5, 000 extension workers.

Wakabi said 51,000 motorcycles will be procured in the next two years to equip the extension workers with the needed transport to inspect farmers across the country.