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Uganda looks to China for beef market

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Uganda looks to China for beef market

“The Chinese would want to take our beef and the demand is so big but, we have to solve issues of diseases first and once this is solved ready market will be available,” said Ssempijja.

The Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries says it has embarked on steps to develop the beef value chain with the aim of tapping into the lucrative Chinese market.

Agriculture Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, said Uganda’s beef could find a huge market in China but that it needs to be better organised to meet the standards and quality desired by Chinese consumers and regulators.

“The Chinese would want to take our beef and the demand is so big but, we have to solve issues of diseases first and once this is solved ready market will be available,” said Ssempijja.

In a bid to raise the standards of Uganda’s beef, Ssempijja said his ministry has embarked on a process of developing a value chain starting with breeders and multipliers that will supply farmers with the desired breeds.

“We have to know the breeders that are going to breed for other farmers, the multipliers and the farmers that are going to produce for this market,” Ssempijja stressed.

Ssempijja says the essence of this exercise is for the Ministry to be certain of how much Uganda can produce for the Chinese market and they (Ministry) will openly announce this in the near future.

“At one stage, we will be able to know how many animals are ready next week, next month respectively. We are strategically organizing this and we shall soon announce this arrangement in the near future,” said Ssempijja.

However, Ssempijja further reveals that the Chinese are not only interested in beef but also other livestock products such as pork and milk products.

Ssempijja made the remarks while holding a press conference at the Ministry Headquarters in Entebbe on November 18, 2019 where he also informed the general public about the forthcoming 10th Anniversary of the FAO-China South-South Cooperation Program and the 2019 FOCAC Africa-China Poverty Reduction and Development Conference that is slated to take place from November 25 -29, at the Commonwealth Resort and Speke Hotel, Munyonyo.

According to Ssempijja, Uganda will host delegates from over 40 countries under the theme “Inspiration, Inclusion and Innovation.”

The conference will highlight pathways forward to advance the south-south and triangular cooperation (SSTC) to achieve the sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda.

Analysis on beef focus

The government’s new orientation towards exporting beef and animal products to China is not entirely a new policy. Previously, such initiatives aimed at taking beef and live animals such as goats to Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have registered minimal success.

Already a number of countries, including closer ones like Australia and New Zealand, are exporting huge volumes of beef to China.

Uganda’s land locked nature coupled with transport difficulties, complicate the business of exporting fresh beef to East Asian markets.

One analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, because his portfolio does not allow him to comment on government policy, voiced mixed views about the policy noting that on paper, it sounds promising considering rising levels of prosperity in a number of East Asian and Arab countries which has created demand for more meat foods.

He however, observes that for Uganda to reap the benefits of big and wealthy markets, it needs to first organise farmers and the entire agricultural system to make it market oriented.

Recently China came to Uganda and asked us to supply 200,000 metric tonnes of soybeans per year. But our total production as a country is merely 180,000 tonnes.

The challenges that prevent us from raising output are the same that affect all other products such coffee, soybeans and beef.

“We need to mount a serious campaign that starts with organizing farmers to produce the same product, says the source.

“After organising farmers, we need to start to introduce the right quality of seed, provide the right extension system, address the limitations affecting farmers such as water, fertilizer and power,” adds the source.

The source adds that sentiments that suggest Uganda can increase productivity using the so-called Agro-ecological methods, are miss-leading.

We’re putting our head in the sand if we imagine that we can increase productivity if we don’t embrace modern technology.

Citing China and Vietnam, the source says those East Asian countries are able to sell rice to Uganda much more cheaply than locally produced rice because they addressed they have mechanized farming that allows them to produce at lower cost.

In view of the high cost of production faced by farmers that undermine productivity, coupled with difficulties of transporting fresh produce to far eastern counties, the source argues that it could make more sense by targeting the regional market that also demand the same products but do not have very stiff standards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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