Bittersweet Moments At Jinja Agricultural Show

Walter Okol, the marketing official at Equator seeds limited, displayed a posture of a man who had mixed feelings.

As he looked out for anyone who showed the slightest sign of interest in his farm inputs at the just-concluded agricultural trade show in Jinja, Okol remembered last year’s event with a twinge of nostalgia.

“This year’s show was good, although last year’s was better. Our location was good then, but this time round, the whole show was disorganised. We were given a different location and we missed many customers,” he said.

And when he got down to the numbers of how much Okol had sold, the pain ran deeper.

“We had sold 2,000 kilos by this time last year but now only 500 kilos have been sold,” he said at the last day of the show on July 13.

There were other traders who thought perhaps the entrance fee was high for many people who would have wished to attend the show. Michael Mweteise, the sales and marketing executive for K-Roma Ltd, lamented that, the entrance fee was raised to Shs 4,000 for adults and Shs 2,000 for children, from Shs 3,000 adults and Shs 1,500 children last year.

There were other traders, though, who appeared comfortable with how the show had gone. Fred Odong, the exhibitor for Upland Rice Millers co ltd, said he was happy they made quite a number of prospective clients.

“I want to thank all our customers who bought our products. We taught many people how to plant and maintain good output. We also referred them to our offices for further inquiries,” he said.

Peter Kisambira, the manager of the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE), which was part of the organizing team of the show, apologized to those whose expectations were not met. He promised to correct any wrongs at the next show. He explained that they had to deal with limited resources to make the show a success.

“We got many exhibitors than before… Also the entrance fee will have to reduce to attract more farmers,” he said.

There are more Ugandans who are engaging in agriculture today, with some dumping their corporate offices for the farms, where returns are said to be high. The emergence of new technology and weather-resistant seeds is fuelling that movement too.

At least three out of four Ugandans depend on agriculture for a living. The biggest percentage of this number could have a difficult financial year after government scrapped some of the incentives, such as value added tax on agricultural inputs and tax on interest earned by banks on agricultural credit, during the national budget.

During this year’s agricultural show, there was more representation from the private sector than the government side. The number of people visiting the show grew in number as the show wound up. Okol says next year’s show better live up to the hype.

“The management should get organized by the time next year’s show takes place. Also the entrance fee should be reduced so that more farmers can come to benefit from the show,” he suggested.

Source : The Observer

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