28 June 2009

Uganda: Tractor Costs Cut By 25 Percent

Kampala — EXPORT Trading Company (ETC) Agro Tractor and Implements Ltd has launched Mahindra tractors and farm equipment, promising to build an assembly plant in Uganda.

The tractors will have a promotional discount of 25% at their warehouse in Banda, Kyambogo for the next three months, the officials announced at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel launch over the weekend.

The launch is expected to propel agricultural mechanisation, boost farm yields and farmers' incomes.

Aston Kajara, the investment state minister, who presided over the function, said with the new tractors, farmers would be transformed from subsistence to commercial farming.

"Many farmers depend on the hoe, with only a few accessing tractors.

"The availability of affordable appropriate technology and provision of supporting infrastructure and services will boost agricultural mechanisation," he said.

"Agriculture is the priority of the Government as it contributes 80% of the gross domestic product."

The sector also employs 80% of the population, while 37% of the exports come from it, he added.

Kajara said the tractors would increase agricultural productivity, raise standards of living and create food security.

Venkat Rao, the ETC tractor manager, said "We are cost-effective and 30 times cheaper than any tractor makers.

"Our tractors are the most robust, reliable and made in a simpler design with modern technology."

"We are bringing farm implements for high productivity in land preparation, weeding, harvesting, and transport equipment."

Rao said the firm was planning to invest in an assembling plant and establish regional support service centres for tractor maintenance and servicing. This, he said, would also create employment.

He said they were also venturing in processing and adding value, marketing and exporting local produce.

Rao said the firm would target smallholder, medium and large farmers so that "Prosperity For All programme is achieved."

Henry Mukisa, the Uganda operations director, outlined the achievements of the group, which include investing in its own processing and cold storage facilities.

"We have invested $16m in a processing factory in Tororo. We also have three cashew nut processing factories in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia," he said.

"We have also invested in rice and milling plants as well as fertilizer plants across the group."

Patrick Bitature, the Uganda Investment Authority chairman, assured the investor that the Government would provide the necessary support to ensure that the project progresses.

"Uganda is poised to be the food basket of the East African region. Therefore, we need such investments in agriculture so that the social and economic conditions of our people improve," he said.

Opolot Okasai, a commissioner at the agricultural ministry, assured the public that the testing and evaluation performance of the Mahindra tractors were carried out.

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