Kampala — The coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Caleb Akandwanaho alias Gen Salim Saleh , has proposed that Uganda stops exporting raw grade grains to neighbouring countries.
This, he said is to enable farmers' produce fetch higher prices and retain jobs accruing from agro-value addition in the country.
Gen Saleh last Friday said if Ugandan farmers started exporting processed grains, they would get out of poverty easily.
"Due to lack of enforcement of standards and open border policy, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudanese informal traders flock the villages from border to border in search of low priced and processed grains," Gen Saleh said at a food security event organised by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) in Kampala .
He added: "As a result, Kenya, a country always in deficit, formally exports more grain than Uganda. Unless addressed, Uganda will remain a source of cheap, poor quality grain to the region and investors will continue to lose out inspite of their contribution to the national coffers."
According to Gen Saleh, in November last year, Uganda exported more than 600 tonnes of unprocessed sorghum, more than 3,000 tonnes of maize, 9,000 tonnes of beans, 2,000 tonnes of millet all in raw form.
A kilogramme of processed maize costs Shs1,500 as opposed to a mere Shs500 farm gate price.
When contacted, Ambassador Julius Onen, the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives permanent secretary, declined to comment on Gen Saleh's proposal, saying that he had just come back from Arusha, Tanzania and needed time.
Bank of Uganda statistics indicate that last year, the country formally exported maize worth $70 million (Shs254 billion) out of the four million metric tonnes.
Bank of Uganda figures still show that Uganda's failure to enforce regional standards aimed at eliminating cheap imports and informal trade is depriving the country of Shs900 billion export revenue annually.
In an earlier interview with Daily Monitor, Mr Chris Kaijuka, the chairman of the Grain Council of Uganda, said Uganda has the potential to realise annual revenue from grain export of $320 million (Shs1.1 trillion) if the trade was formalised.
Speaking at the Friday event, the State minister for Agriculture, Mr Christopher Kibazanga, cautioned that the next world war will be caused by how countries will share the dwindling resources mainly caused by climate change.
Mr Kibazanga said high on the agenda, especially for Uganda, is the Nile water shared by several countries, including Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia which is constructing a mega hydro power dam.
Another resource that Ugandans should watch out, the minister said, is the oil. Uganda discovered oil and is expected to flow by 2020 and has been fronted as the biggest economic game changer of our time.