‘Uganda has enough stocks to support drought-hit States in Southern Africa’

Lusaka, Thursday, 4 April 2024: Drought hit COMESA Member States in southern African region can benefit from Uganda’s bumper harvest, says Gen. Fred Mwesigye, the country’s newly accredited Permanent Representative to COMESA.

Gen. Mwesigye (Rtd) who is Uganda’s High Commissioner to Zambia was speaking at the COMESA Headquarters in Lusaka, Thursday 4 April 2024, when he presented his letter of credence to COMESA Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe.

He noted the devastating effects of climate change in the Southern part of the continent, and stated that Uganda had a surplus of maize and other crops available to assist COMESA Member States affected by the drought.

“We have recorded a bumper harvest in maize, and we are ready to supply maize to Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to help cushion the deficit caused by the drought,” he added.

During the brief accreditation ceremony, Gen. Mwesigye (Rtd) expressed Uganda’s support for COMESA and emphasized the country’s commitment to intensified cooperation with the regional bloc to fulfill the aims and objectives of the COMESA Treaty.

SG Kapwepwe commended the government of Uganda for its commitment and dedication to the ideals of COMESA. She highlighted Uganda’s active participation in regional integration programs and noted that Uganda, as a founding member of COMESA, has continued to benefit from its membership.

Uganda is one of the Member States with the highest ratio of intra-COMESA trade as percentage of Global COMESA trade by member States. It recorded a positive growth in 2021 intra-COMESA total export values, from US$ 608 million in 2020 to US$ 755.3 million in 2021. Additionally, Uganda has benefited from the COMESA Adjustment Facility, with a total approved allocation of 5.59 million Euros since 2014.

“The Fund has been used for the construction of border markets and border export zones. Furthermore, a budget of 2.76 million Euros under the Regional Integration Implementation Project phase II has supported the construction of the Border Export Zones in Uganda,” Madam Kapwepwe said.

Under the agriculture and industry sector, COMESA provided support to six countries, including Uganda, through the Digital Regional Food Balance Sheet initiative, to strengthen systems for agri-food data and information generation and dissemination in the region.

A $740,000 grant fund for Climate-Smart Agriculture was also provided in five districts in eastern Uganda. The project successfully piloted the integration of Climate-Smart Agriculture into agricultural production systems and demonstrated a two to three-fold yield increase for maize and beans.

“It transformed 24 community groups into 15 producer cooperatives, promoted produce bulking and storage for profitable marketing, and initiated mechanization of Climate-Smart Agriculture to reduce costs and labour input,” the SG stated.

Several other programs are being implemented in Uganda, including the Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (RECAMP), the 50 Million African Women Speak Programme, and the Peace and Security Programme.

Statement by Secretary General