President Yoweri Museveni has urged the people of Luwero to engage in wealth-creation activities such as commercial agriculture in order to fight poverty and increase their household incomes.
The president says this has been the consistent message of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) for the last 60 years.
“The NRM for the last 60 years has been advising you to seek first homestead income and the rest will be added unto you. If you don’t get that message, you just waste a lot of time,” H.E Museveni said.
Gen. Museveni who was accompanied by the First Lady, H.E Janet Museveni made the remarks while addressing the gathering at Bukalasa Agricultural College shortly after commissioning their new modern infrastructure that is meant to kickstart the process of transforming the college as a centre of excellence in the agricultural training.
The commissioned facilities include among others; Milk and Food processing house, zero grazing unit, broiler and layer unit, piggery unit, an agro-processing unit, a calf pen, a demonstration unit, laboratories, classrooms, library and ICT laboratory block. These were constructed at the cost of $11 million equivalent to approximately Uganda shillings 40 billion.
This investment has not only uplifted Bukalasa Agricultural College as a centre of excellence but also as an institution that can generate income to sustain itself according to Ms Ketty Lamaro, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES).
President Museveni told the people of Luwero that whereas the government has improved the infrastructure like roads, hospitals and other social services, it makes no sense to be proud when the people using them are poor.
“Even if we make the roads, it will not take away the poverty in your home. A tarmac road will pass by your home and you will remain poor,” Gen Museveni said, giving an example of the people in Ngoma sub county, Luwero district who despite having poor infrastructure, listened to his message of wealth creation and transformed from keeping cows and producing milk for home consumption but also for the market.
“People in Kampala have the best roads but the poor people are so many. I started teaching these things to people 60 years ago. I used to teach them that the antidote for poverty is wealth, and it can move hand in hand with development as long as you are able to differentiate between the two and what benefits all of us. For example, the road belongs to us all; the hospital is for all of us but the wealth is mine alone or for us as a family,” he noted.
“In all that we do, we should desist from being diverted and get to know that the medicine for poverty is wealth. Development just makes it easy for you to create wealth but even without development like in Ngoma, you can create wealth as you follow our teachings. They have challenges of development, but their homestead incomes are steady.”
The President also appreciated Bukalasa Agricultural College for championing Science-led agricultural production for crops and animal products and urged Ugandans to use these agricultural institutions for more knowledge in areas of; Livestock and crop production, Animal feed growing and processing, Value addition to the products and for specialized Training and skilling of the young people.
“You the community must learn from it. This is important,” he said.
President Museveni further directed the Minister of State for Luwero Triangle and Rwenzori Region, Hon. Alice Kaboyo to work with the Ministry of Works and Transport so that the road from Wobulenzi town council leading to Bukalasa Agricultural College is worked on.
“I agree we should tarmac the roads inside here. It’s not good to have food factories with this dust contaminating the food being prepared,” he remarked.
The First Lady who is also the Minister of Education and Sports, H.E Janet Museveni informed the gathering that as Uganda strives to transform its human resource, Bukalasa and other technical colleges are going to quicken the process of industries to find a home in the country because those who qualify from these colleges must be hands-on in training and not just theoretical qualification alone hence transforming the country’s human resource.
The First Lady was also happy to learn that Bukalasa has been equipped to add value to their products such as fruits, milk, and other agricultural products, saying “with time we can also build some silos so that they can store dry cereals and foodstuffs. When we have food shortages, we can get help from these agricultural colleges or at least specialize in seed banking”.
She also thanked the President for striving to strengthen Uganda’s potential by investing in infrastructure development, especially for higher institutions of learning both for universities and technical colleges.
“I am confident that with the skills we intend to build here and elsewhere, food shortages will not only be a thing of the past but also the people who live on the land who happen to be the majority of our communities will no longer live in poverty, considering that government has also invested heavily in the Parish Development Model. If more skilled personnel come from these colleges, the sky should be the limit,” Mrs Museveni said.
She thanked development partners such as the World Bank, for the financial lending and technical support towards these projects; the Uganda Skills Development Project (USD) and the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project (ARSDP) have enabled the government to create centres of excellence for specialized training for the priority sectors of Uganda’s economy which are the foundational building blocks for the country.
At the same event, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze thanked the Government for prioritizing Bukalasa Agricultural College to continue skilling Ugandans to do amazing innovations and produce products ready for the market.
“The ministry of Agriculture will sit with the Ministry of Education to discuss how we can support these institutions to cooperate with dedicated separate business arms that will help to commercialize their products,” Minister Tumwebaze said.
The Principal of Bukalasa Agricultural College, Mr Gelvan Kisolo Lule informed the President that the commissioned state-of-the-art infrastructure has not only benefited students but also farmers and groups from within and outside Luwero district to acquire agricultural skills.
“This college is now open to all categories of people who are interested in acquiring skills irrespective of their level of education. As a result, there’s already an increased demand for training among the farming fraternity,” Mr Kisolo said.
Bukalasa Agricultural College (BAC) was originally established in 1920 as a cotton research centre by the Imperial Cotton Research Program. Through mergers with other institutions, the centre was later transformed into a comprehensive Agricultural Research and Training Institute.
The college is among the five Colleges in Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), referred to as centres of excellence. The other four include; Uganda Technical College Lira, Uganda Technical College, Elgon, Uganda Technical College, Bushenyi and Uganda Technical College, Kichwamba.
The ceremony was attended by among others Ministers, District leaders of Luwero, Principals of different agricultural institutions countrywide, students and the general public.