ARUA. Presidents Yoweri Museveni has told Ugandans occupying wetland and forest areas to get out before they are forcefully removed from them.
“Please without force get out of the forest, the government forests, they are not many-after all, they are not even 20% of Uganda. Get out of Zoka forest after all its only a small area, much of the land is already under cassava, malakwang fine but these few areas of the land please leave them out”, the president said.
He was speaking during the closure of the West Nile investment symposium held at Muni University in Arua on Friday.
The president said the few areas of protected areas should not to interfered with for the good of mother nature.
“But these few areas of the forest please leave them alone. If you want to grow cassava you go and do it where you have been growing it”, the president added.
His comments come at a time when a section of Adjumani district leadership has come under fire from all directions for not doing enough to protect Zoka forest which has been invaded by illegal loggers.
The president also castigated some Ugandan Education institutions for charging foreign students higher than nationals when it comes to school fees saying he would not accept it in public universities.
A cross-section of leaders stated what needed to be done to improve the economic conditions of residents in the region.
Mr Bernard Atiku, MP Ayivu County
West Nile should prepare to host one or two industrial parks where we can have assembly points for agricultural mechanization where we should be able to get these implements cheaply and get some of these implements cheaply and improve on our agricultural production.
On getting peasants on board
I think we are slowly getting the formula, peasants are practicing agriculture on small disjointed pieces of land, we now need to start talking to people to amalgamate the small pieces and begin identifying the crops to farm for example if the village has about 1000 acres and 50 homesteads, time has come for us to say the 50 homesteads should move to one location so that there is an organized settlement to release pressure on the land and put there one or two tractors to till the land or put the irrigation so that the land can be mechanized and used maximumly eventually the land will be made use of at a commercial scale.
And the focus of OWC should be towards that setup.
Mr Lawrence Songa Biyaka, Oraa County MP
Rebranding Northern Uganda and the Africa upper Nile valley to investment opportunities.
For any investment to take place there must be savings, so the culture of savings should be preached and inculcated in the population, so our people need to increase productivity but we need investment.
You can’t bring heavy machinery from Germany to come here when you only have 33kv of electricity, we need 132 KV.
There was some delay in the process of extending the power to the West Nile but we hope in 18 months, the strong power from Karuma will be here but the question is how prepared are our people.
The road alone without your productivity is not otherwise if a good road was a sign of high standard then the people in Oraba, Koboko Maracha are no longer poor, there are other factors that must be fulfilled.
Anyama Williams, Moyo district chairman
First of all, we expected to see German investors here, I don’t know whether they are here or they are yet to come because that was the message.
All the districts in the West Nile prepared proposals which were submitted, at what time of the conference will feedback be made and who will make the feedback?
Mr Edwin Atukunda Beekunda, director Edwin foundation tea initiative limited
We are here to show how people can be able to add value to their own tea, basically, the government has been giving free seedlings to people through Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) and NAADS to train them to manage their own estates. Because there is a lot to be done to bring out good tea.
We are trying also to train people to make their own tea that’s why we are here, we hope that we shall have opportunities for a factory now in Zombo, we shall have opportunities to request for more seedlings because they have enough land and they are already convinced that tea can do well in the area.
We are already in partnership with Zombo tea growers which is already registered. We are the founders of tea growing in Northern Uganda, in Zombo, Gulu, and Kamwenge district having been in the trade for 25 years.
Moved to Kenya to partner with Kenya research center and we intend to get new varieties in the country.
Dr Abraham Mayek, South Sudan minister of trade and commerce who conveyed a three-point message from President Salva Kiir to first identify common interests between the two communities, reinvent the cultural and other relations that existed in the past and establish some mechanism to enhance the huge investment potential of the two communities.
Mayek praised the Uganda business community in South Sudan calling them champions of the cordial Uganda South Sudan relations.
“I want us to work to maximize the investment potential between the two countries; there are a number of South Sudanese who have built beautiful real estates in Uganda and there are people from this country doing similar work in South Sudan and those are the investments we need to protect”, Mayek said.
He called on the two countries to immediately embark on investment protection and promotion between the two countries.
However, he said the traders and potential investors would be scared off if the tax environment wasn’t favorable and asked the government to work towards avoiding the same.
Mr Mayek thanked Uganda and the president for the relative peace experienced in his country for the last 18 months despite political negotiations between president Salva Kiir and opposition chief Riek Machar still ongoing.