The Commander of Operation Wealth Creation, General Caleb Akandwanaho, on Tuesday presided over the launch of a partnership between Makerere University College of Agricultural Sciences and Environmental Sciences top dons and National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs).
The partnership is aimed at helping boost agricultural production in the country through the sharing of knowledge and skills. General Saleh wants agricultural transformation to be knowledge-led by Makerere University.
Speaking at the launch, General Saleh expressed happiness at the partnership between the two groups coming together.
“I am the happiest general on earth now because of this relationship. All institutions involved in Agriculture will be linked,” Gen. Saleh who is responsible for Uganda’s latest agricultural revolution that has resulted into production surplus told the meeting held at Serene Suites in Mutundwe, a Kampala suburb.
The visibly excited General added, “this is the best thing that has happened to Agriculture in Uganda in a very long time.”
Under the arrangement, both groups are supposed to share knowledge and skills which will inturn be used to address the challenges affecting agriculture in the country focusing on reduction of post- harvest losses for grains and markets.
Gen. Saleh who is also Presidential Advisor on Defence and Security, was appointed Commander of the Operation Wealth Creation, a program started by President Yoweri Museveni to boost agricultural production in the country and ensure producers earn household incomes.
He revealed that Buganda Kingdom had offered their assets for hire to Operation Wealth Creation.
” Buganda Kingdom has offered us their assets to hire. These include 18 strategically located places where training can be held; Amasaza, Gombololas etc”
During the meeting, Saleh hinted on the fact that Agriculture provides the solution to the job scarcity challenge in Uganda.
“I like this program because it provides a way out of unemployment for our youth, it is now the only sector that provides very many jobs” General Saleh said.
On his part, Professor Bernard Bashaasha of Makerere University’ college of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences praised Gen. Saleh for his dedication to agricultural growth.
“I would like to thank you for your passion in making sure that we develop our agricultural base,” Prof. Bashaasha said.
President Yoweri Museveni recently decided to deploy the army to coordinate NAADS activities after he carried out an experiment with UPDF officers in former freedom struggle zones and discovered the soldiers did more distributing planting and breeding material for much less money.
Gen. Saleh expressed happiness that the 4 seasons UPDF has been involved, there is remarkable increase in production leading to surplus. He also hinted that UPDF would not stay in Agriculture.
“We ( UPDF) are not going to stay in agriculture. We have already done 4 seasons. We have the railway, the shipyard to work on,” Gen. Saleh said.
The General spent some time taking the dons through UPDF’s fast methods of work.
“In the Army, it is mobilisation, deployment, engagement, victory, defeat or withdraw. Regarding Operation Wealth Creation, deployment is finished, officers are on ground, in the fields. We are through with stabilization, we are now on consolidation. When we (UPDF) are through with stabilization and consolidation of agricultural transformation, we exit and do other things,” he explained.
NAADS’ Executive Director Samuel Mugasi informed the meeting that they have a cabinet directive to involve institutions like Makerere University to “help us with clean mother gardens for planting material.”
General Saleh called for an integrated approach on agricultural transformation.
“We must find a way Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Uganda Research Institute and NARO fit. It must be clear where Ugandans go when they need planting materials or goats. All institutions must work in partnership,” the General said.
General Saleh told the meeting that employing post-harvest equipment would reduce crop loss the way hydro-energy losses were reduced.
“Electricity losses were 35% when we investigated in 2012. The losses have now been reduced to 12%. We must do this for Agriculture”
He also informed the meeting that “the President was keen on how we get clean planting material in sufficient quanties.”
Some of the post-harvest equipment to be delivered by Operation Wealth Creation to producers include solar driers, maize shellers, moisture metres and bagging tech. The idea behind bagging is to stop insects by eliminating oxygen.