Uganda: Kuwait Donates $100m for Agriculture

New Vision | 17 June 2008

Ibrahim Kasita

Kampala — UGANDA is to benefit from $100m contribution by Kuwait to support food production and agri-businesses development, James Mugume the permanent secretary in the foreign affairs ministry has said.

The fund, known as "Dignity Living," was launched in April during the World Islamic Economic Forum held in Kuwait. Its aim is to address global food shortages.

The Emir of Kuwait provided the money to promote agriculture in arable countries so that they could export to Middle East states.

The world, including oil producing countries, is facing high commodity prices due to food shortages.

Speaking yesterday at The New Vision head offices about the on-going OIC summit, Mugume said the funds aim at helping agricultural countries to increase production and exports.

"This is part of the economic assistance programme in the category of least developed and landlocked countries with the potential to increase food production," he said.

The money will finance the building of infrastructure for the processing, storage and transportation of agricultural produce. It will also help agri-businesses meet export standards, Mugume explained.

"People are cutting deals and signing partnerships and joint ventures. Investors tend to be shy but when they see two to three companies coming, they also join," he said.

"The fund will enable food producers to commercialise agriculture and produce more items for export."

He said the conference would also discuss economic issues related to tourism, trade and investment among member countries. The promotion of intra-OIC trade and development of infrastructure in Africa was also on the agenda, he added.

Mugume was accompanied by the head of the ministry's Africa and Middle East desk, Rosemary Semafumu. She explained that the business forum, preceding the conference, also discussed information and communication technology, funding for African development as well as social and cultural development.

She described the business forum proceedings as the first platform in the OIC aiming at encouraging the private partnership.

"Issues of promoting Halaal (food standards for Islam), encouraging food exports and taking common positions in bigger forums like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are to be discussed," she explained.

Other issues include an attempt to establish a preferential tariff scheme and cooperation in the stock exchange markets.

Semafumu said the forum was raising issues affecting ordinary people and expects bilateral trade agreements to be sealed at the end of the conference.

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