The Dutch Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Henk Jan Bakker has visited a number of agricultural projects supported by AVSI Foundation at the Mbarara-based Bishop Stuart University (BSU).
The Ambassador was impressed with the number of projects being carried out at the university’s agricultural farm.
Among these included; wine processing, mushroom growing, orchards, banana production, pasture gardens, botanical gardens, silage bank and tomato growing.
Dr Rebecca Kalibwani, the Head of department for Agriculture and Agribusiness at BSU said Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) Foundation has been supporting poultry keeping, piggery, dairy farming, vegetable production and construction of a green house at the university.
Julius Agaba, the farm manager said that the Dutch Foundation completed a Shs 28m green house and is now funding the construction of a Shs 30m poultry unit aimed at housing about 1,500 birds.
Apart from constructing farm structures, the AVSI Foundation has been providing unwavering support especially in improving practical skills of students and building the capacity of Uganda, in order to focus on job creation rather than job seeking.
Dr Kalibwani who is the Principal Investigator for establishing an agribusiness incubation hub, revealed that AVSI Foundation is also going to offer start up funding of 5 to 10 students dealing in enterprises.
“Students competed and they selected 10 winners who are going to get up to Shs 5 million to start up their own businesses,” said Kalibwani.
She says that the AVSI collaboration with BSU started in 2017 and since inception far the foundation has supported the university with close to Shs 200m in to imparting skills of production to the students.
“They introduced the skilling youths project to BSU in 2017 where we signed a Memorandum of Understanding. They were willing to work with a university that offers agriculture so that they can contribute to imparting the skills to the youths,” Kalibwani explained.
Ambassador Henk Jan Bakker promised continuous support from Netherlands to concretize human progress and peace, big issues that remain a daily challenge in the world.
“The Netherlands Embassy in Uganda works with civil society organizations and the government to the Netherlands embassy has an aid trade agenda,” said Bakker.
He believes that the economic and private sector development are the best ways to create jobs and income for Ugandans.
“In our aid program, we focus on Food Security & Agriculture, JLOS (Justice, Law & Order), SRHR and refugees, trade & investment; because we believe in the long run Uganda and the Netherlands should have a mature, mutually beneficial economic relationship because we believe the two are linked.” Bakker explained
He therefore encouraged BSU to explore and benefit from other Dutch funded programs such as the Nuffic Tailor-Made-Training (TMT) or collaboration with TIDE in agro innovation.
He encouraged the university together with the students to focus at commercial production in whichever agricultural project they venture in.