According to the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU), local food producers and processors are suffering from high production costs.
This was stated at a discussion on Wednesday at the Protea Hotel in Kampala by PSFU Board Vice-Chairperson, Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko, Vice Chair of Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).
The “Private Sector Dialogue” takes place while the price of wheat continues to climb, which has a severe influence on people’s quality of life through high prices for funded goods and a negative impact on the bread and confectionery industries.
Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko, vice chair of the PSFU Board, speaking.
Hon. Sekitoleko stated, “We are not the government; we are Private Sector Foundation Uganda, and our job is to bring the private sector together, work with them, assist them in expanding, and close the gap with the government.
In order to have all the information in one place, we want to listen to each other today, exchange opinions, and find out who needs what. This will enable us to use this information to benefit everyone, said the former minister of agriculture.
High production costs, particularly for wheat alternatives, have been a problem for local food producers and processors, according to Hon Sekitoleko.
Hon. Ssekitoleko and the PSFU crew sampling foods from the nearby area
She placed responsibility on the energy distributor Umeme Uganda Limited and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
She mentioned the instance of URA “squeezing the private sector with taxes” and hindering the development of young factories.
“When one of you is squeezed, PSFU is being squeezed. The efforts of PSFU will be lost if something is not done about URA. She said, “I’m sure they’re keeping an eye on everyone comes in so they can come and tax you.
“Our taxes purchased the structure in which they are housed, the URA Tower in Nakawa. If we don’t cooperate, they’ll take us out one by one and put us in jail, warned Hon Ssekitoleko.
She thinks that URA should work with new factories for at least two years to assist them understand the taxation system before they can begin to pay taxes.
But the URA just chases you down, seizes you, and parades you in front of your neighbors. URA is unconcerned. Instead of just arresting and imprisoning small-scale producers, URA should leave the structure we erected for them and go work with them on the ground.
According to Hon Ssekitoleko, Umeme and power outages are the second issue plaguing regional producers and processors.
“Umeme is such a pain. The cost of electricity is very high. Not only is electricity expensive, but it is also unreliable. You overheard a manufacturing owner claim that production was stopped due to power shortages. Losses result from power outages. We require a reliable, cost-effective electrical supply.
She suggested that cassava farmers build a forum to ensure better representation.
“Stand beneath a platform. It facilitates communication. A distinct platform for each group of processors is what PSFU aspires to have. We can all work together to resolve problems when they arise.
She proposed switching out wheat for local alternatives in response to the rising price of wheat.
“We’re urging Ugandans to see that there are other options available to us, including cassava, pumpkins, sorghum, matooke, millet, etc. Health comes first when it comes to eating. Compared to the wheat we are used to, these alternative flours are healthier. However, we urge Ugandans to never claim that something cannot be done. Do not simply give up.
“PSFU will fill that void and tell the government that if it wants a solution, it needs to contribute to it. Value chain by value chain is how we operate. We require consistent customers as cassava growers and processors. Farmers will produce if consumers are prepared to buy, according to Hon Sekitoleko.
increasing wheat costs
The value of wheat has climbed from $40 million to $150 million per year since the turn of the century, according to Eric Sempambo, PSFU Investment Specialist – Business Environment, who was speaking at the same discussion. Wheat output in Uganda is at 25 metric tonnes.
Business Environment Investment Specialist at PSFU Eric Sempambo
“In the nation where I live, 90% of the wheat I eat is imported. 53 percent of this comes from Russia and Ukraine, where a conflict has resulted in a shortage, Sempambo observed, adding:
“Over the last four years, the value of wheat imports has climbed to an average of USD 150 million per year from USD 40 million at the turn of the century.”
According to him, wheat prices have doubled over the past six months, and the Bank of Uganda predicts that this trend will continue through 2023, creating a significant potential for import substitution.
At the conversation, Sempambo spoke
“Every economic upheaval creates opportunity, particularly in terms of R&D. How can we use that? How can we guarantee that the necessary quantities are met?
Domestic manufacture and blended products, he claimed, are one alternative.
Wheat grown locally faces a competitiveness difficulty. How can we produce wheat for less money than it costs to import? Blended products represent the other opportunity. a blend of flour made from cassava and wheat, for instance.
Innovative goods are displayed
A variety of young entrepreneurs who produce blended foods and wheat substitutes, some of the suggested remedies for the wheat scarcity, displayed their goods outside the discussion.
Millers of Windwood
One of the leading businesses, Windwood Millers, is situated in Lira and processes cassava flour for companies in the confectionary sector like Hot Loaf Bakery.
More than 1,500 farmers in the Lango sub-region, of whom 70% are women, supply cassava to Winwood Millers.
A factory from the Bweyogerere Industrial Park, AIRO Cassava Growers & Processors Ltd., also attended the discussion.
Cassava growers and processors in AIRO
They began by selling cassava stems, but today they produce a wide range of cassava goods, including flour, starch, cakes, and more.
Orga Healthy Foods, a research-based business based out of the Makerere Food Technology and Business Incubation Center that produces zero wheat gluten-free pumpkin-based baking flour blends in addition to other product lines, was also present.
Wheat, barley, rye, and triticale all contain the protein known as gluten (a cross between wheat and rye). An eating regimen that forbids foods containing gluten is known as a gluten-free diet.