Preparations are in high gear for the upcoming Kenya-Uganda Agribusiness Symposium and Exhibition where stakeholders in the agribusiness sector in both Uganda and Kenya will network and identify new opportunities.
Themed ‘’Unlocking the Full Potential of Agribusiness to Enhance Export Performance for National Development”, the Symposium will take place at Pride Inn Paradise Inn Beach Resort, Mombasa from September 8-9 this year and has officially be launched on Thursday at the Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala.
It is expected to bring together different agribusiness and agricultural stakeholders including farmer associations and cooperatives, financial service providers, government officials, agro-processors and agribusiness entrepreneurs and professionals, agro-input dealers drawn from the East African region (EAC).
Speaking during its launch on Thursday, Uganda’s Minister of State in Charge of Regional Affairs, Hon John Mulimba, said the Symposium is an opportunity for Uganda to consolidate its market in Kenya and discover new existing trade opportunities.
“Agriculture remains the mainstream of Uganda’s economy accounting for about 24% of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and generating more than half of our country’s export earnings. The sector also employs over 70% of Uganda’s working population. You are also aware that Kenya is Uganda’s leading trade partner in the region – most of our exports to Kenya are agricultural products and therefore, convening of the Symposium is a great initiative at consolidating our market in Kenya and dealing with any challenges to trade that may exist,” says Mulumba.
He adds that some of the topics to be tackled during the Symposium include enhancing agricultural trade between Uganda and Kenya, interdependence of agro-based industries in Uganda and Kenya and the available opportunities in the agriculture sector in the two countries.
“There will also be a session of business to business and business to government engagement,” Mulimba says.
According to the organizers, the conversation will take place through the lens of the private sector with bias to the sustainable development goals 2030 roadmap, which sets ambitious targets for the agricultural sector and economic development.
The two days of this symposium, according to organizers, will give an opportunity to the attendees to hear from the most respected leaders in fields such as food safety and standards, agri-technology, pests and diseases and export producers.
Mulimba explains that the Symposium intends to attract quality investments in production and post-harvest handling practices and technologies as well as increasing volumes by strategical positioning of local agricultural products in the global market.
The two neighboring countries have in the past had some trade concerns that resulted in among other things, banning the importation of some products from either country citing a number of factors including being of low standards, thus causing huge losses to traders.
When SoftPower News asked the minister whether next month’s Symposium will factor-in discussions on challenges to do with logistical issues and regulatory frameworks that have for long affected trade between the two countries, he responded to the affirmative.
“On day one, we shall have panel discussion where we expect to discuss logistical and administrative issues. We also expect on the sidelines to have discussions with officials on the Republic of Kenya about policy issues which affect trade between the two countries. The technical teams from both countries will also meet and resolve the administrative issues,” Mulimba responded to SoftPower News.
Trade between Uganda and Kenya has increased on the back of the East African Common Market Protocol which was signed in 2010, and which allows the free movement of goods, people, labour, services and capital from one partner state to another.
According to Kenya’s Economic Survey 2019, the value of imports from Uganda to Kenya rose to KES49.4 billion inn2018 on account of increased imports of maize, animal feeds, milk and sugar.
Thursday’s launch was also attended by officials from Private Sector Foundation Uganda, Uganda airlines and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.