HOIMA, UGANDA: A preliminary study by Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) has revealed that as oil and gas developments kick off in the Albertine region, the demand for meat and milk has outstripped the supply.
Tonny Odokonyero, a research fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) presented the finding of the survey commissioned by the Petroleum Authority, agriculture Business Initiative (aBi), and Stanbic Bank at the just concluded 3rd National Content Conference.
The study was to uncover other linkages beyond the demand and supply of food in the oil and gas districts.
According to Odokonyero, the influx of people to the Albertine region is causing demand to outstrip supply for meat, vegetables, and milk.
“If you consider the core oil districts and spillover districts, you find that the rate at which demand is growing is faster in the core districts than the spillover districts,” said Odonkonyero.
He said it means that the food demand pressure is more in the core oil districts than in the spillover districts like Mubende, Kyakwanzi, and others due to the development of oil and gas infrastructure. The survey finds that food sufficiency is being driven by markets in terms of food purchases.
The researchers found that while there are surpluses in cereals and pulses, Albertine is facing a lot of supply gaps in terms of meat, milk, and vegetables.
Apart from meat, vegetables, and milk, food production in the Albertine is likely to be affected by lack of productivity-enhancing inputs like fertilizers and pesticides.
“Access to inputs is a big challenge. Probably the different players in oil and gas can look at supporting or investing in that area. By supporting the different value chains of agriculture,” Odokonyero suggested.
The Petroleum Authority has in the past indicated that linkages like agriculture and other services to the oil and gas sector could earn the country up to $8 billion.
An agribusiness specialist, Dr. Birungi Korutaro said her organization Kilimo Trust quantified the demands of one of the oil and gas operators in the Albertine and found that it needed over 5,630 metric tons of 17 horticulture products but found that there were likely to be shortages in supply.
“We still have challenges. You see a smallholder farmer producing small volumes. The quality they produce isn’t that good, the newspapers are awash with headlines of chemical residues in our food, ” she said.
Korutaro suggests that farmers in the Albertine need to be supported otherwise they will be spectators as others reap from oil and gas.
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