Full Speech by U.S. Ambassador Deborah R. Malac at the 2017 USA Agriculture Trade Mission in Uganda

Disseminated worldwide by Public Opinions International
Wednesday 25th May 2017

On behalf of the American Embassy, let me say at the outset what a pleasure it has been to work with the American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda and the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda to make this trade mission possible.

Our partnership proves a core truth: that the private sectors in both the United States and Uganda have a shared interest in building Uganda’s agricultural sector, and in growing the levels of trade and investment between our two countries. The U.S. government is ready and willing to assist Uganda in expanding these partnerships so that our countries and our citizens can prosper and grow together.

I would like to pay special thanks to the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda, Captain Abhay Agarwal, and the full membership of the Chamber.  Your support for this event and your excellent work in promoting U.S. business interests in Uganda are a testament to the strong ties between our countries.  I appreciate your leadership and the vision you have articulated in helping the American business community build enduring partnership with their Ugandan counterparts.

My thanks also go to the team at Kinetic Management Group for its work in helping to make this event a success, as well as our sponsors, Citibank, Crowe Horwath, Sombha Solutions, and Heartland Global.

It is clear that our sponsors understand that successful farmers help create wealth and sustainable livelihoods for all Ugandans – a key element of our joint efforts to build the prosperous and stable country all Ugandans want and deserve.

One of my primary goals as the American Ambassador to Uganda is to see bilateral trade and investment flourish between the United States and Uganda. As I look out at this room, I am confident that we are on the right track. Nearly two dozen leading American companies have joined us for this trade mission – offering Ugandan firms irrigation and crop storage solutions, as well as other cutting edge goods and services. This impressive turnout demonstrates the growing interest among U.S. companies to partner with Ugandan agribusinesses, and to take advantage of opportunities in Uganda’s growing agriculture sector.

Approximately 25 Ugandan farmers and agribusinesses also joined us this week, all of them ready to grow their production and capacity. I see their participation as an acknowledgement among Ugandan entrepreneurs and business leaders that by linking to U.S. firms Ugandans can propel their business to the next level – and take advantage of the high-quality equipment and services Americans have to offer.

When you think about the potential of this partnership, you begin to get a sense of the unlimited possibilities that are before us. Just imagine: connecting the hard-working, entrepreneurial spirit of Uganda’s agribusiness sector with American technology and expertise.

Tapping into the enormous potential of Uganda’s agricultural sector, and linking it to the vast American markets. These are winning combinations, and together, I have no doubt that both our countries can profit from them.

During the past three years, the U.S. Embassy has partnered with the American Chamber of Commerce to hold events like this trade mission that support Uganda’s and America’s shared trade and investment goals in the agricultural sector.  And our efforts are producing results.

Just last year, U.S. investors and Ugandan agricultural entrepreneurs reached agreements to produce high-yield corn seed in Uganda, improve cattle genetics, and explore innovative ways to finance agricultural production and equipment purchases.

An American investor now sits on the board of a local agro-processing firm – demonstrating his faith in the growth potential of the Ugandan agricultural sector.

Another U.S. entrepreneur is partnering with Ugandan farmers to bring roasted gonja chips to the shelves of American grocery stores. Just think: we could soon see American kids begging their parents for Ugandan gonja chips, rather than Doritos or M&Ms, and even gonja chip commercials during the Super Bowl – starting a whole new culinary trend and creating a new generation of consumers for Ugandan products!

But that was last year – what have we accomplished today?  I understand that over the course of this year’s trade mission, Ugandan and U.S. businesses I understand that over the course of this year’s trade mission, Ugandan and U.S. businesses laid the groundwork for millions of dollars in new deals over the next several years that will help bring improved inputs, agricultural equipment, and services into Uganda’s agricultural sector.  Thanks to the connections made at this trade mission leading Ugandan grain and sugarcane firms are looking to partner with world-class American agricultural technologists.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is ready to do a training and exchange program for Ugandan students studying agriculture.  We even have firms lining up feasibility studies for future venture capital investments in Uganda’s supercharged agriculture market.

These deals are just the beginning. The evidence is clear that trade and investment between the United States and Uganda is steadily increasing. With the connections made here this week, I am sure that trend will continue. The representatives of the Ugandan and U.S. private sectors at this trade mission are laying the foundation for shared prosperity and continued partnership for many years to come.

By building on what we have accomplished thus far, we can ensure that more Ugandan farmers will have access to quality irrigation systems, improved storage facilities to reduce crop loss, greater access to financing and ultimately, increased wealth. And with that improved prosperity for Ugandan farmers, all Ugandans will prosper.

Uganda has incredible natural resources: fertile soils, an ideal climate, and a growing population of entrepreneurs ready to capitalize on Uganda’s comparative advantages. These conditions provide the perfect opportunity for rapid growth in the agriculture sector, and I’m here to say that the United States wants to be a part of that story. With the right investments from world-class U.S. companies, agriculture can power the Ugandan economy of the future.

It has been said that farming is the most important work of humanity, and that farmers are the founders of civilization. I truly believe that by unlocking the potential of Uganda’s agricultural sector, this country and all its citizens can thrive. The U.S. Embassy, the American Chamber of Commerce, and the Private Sector Foundation-Uganda share that common interest in boosting the prosperity of Ugandan farmers.

What we have set in motion here this week brings us one step closer to realizing this vision of Uganda’s economic future.

Allow me once again to thank all of you for participating in this important mission, and for demonstrating your faith and your confidence in both the United States and Uganda.  On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I wish you all a bountiful harvest.

 

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