President Yoweri Museveni has asked local leaders to focus on East Africa’s integration, saying Ugandans stand to gain more from being able to access the larger regional market than being limited to the national one alone.
Museveni made the remarks this Monday while meeting the National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) stakeholders at Boma Grounds in Mbarara.
“The Ugandan market alone is not enough,” Museveni said. “If all Ugandans decide to rear animals, cultivate and manufacture, where shall we sell all our products? What shall we do with that surplus production when we don’t have the regional market?” he asked.
The president noted that the increased production of goods the country has registered over the past couple of decades makes access to larger markets indispensable. Citing the case of sugar production, Museveni said:
“Uganda currently manufactures 580,000 tonnes of sugar, of which we only consume 380,000 tonnes. The balance has nowhere to go, and that is why the Basoga sugar cane growers are crying.”
He urged the leaders to prioritize efforts to make the East African Community a reality.
“I want you leaders, together with the other East African leaders, to emphasize regional integration so that by the time I retire, it has already been achieved,” Museveni said.
Museveni further called for farmers to embrace commercial rather than subsistence farming if they are to improve their livelihoods, and encouraged leaders to implement commercial farming at every parish in order to fully monetize Ugandan society.
The president condemned the widespread practice of land fragmentation, urging Ugandans instead to create shares from which family members can co-own family businesses with individuals sharing dividends after setting up projects like piggery, cattle grazing and cultivation on a large scale.
Later, at a meeting with President Museveni at State Lodge Kamukuzi, youths from Mbarara City, Kiruhura, Kashari, Kazo, Isingiro, Ibanda and Rwampara districts requested him to consider setting up skilling centres in every sub-county within their districts to combat unemployment in the Western region.
More than 75% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30, with the country having one of the highest youth unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa at 13.3%.
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