UGANDA – Tullow Uganda is in partnership with Stanbic Bank Uganda to open an Agriculture Enterprise Centre in Hoima, an oil rich District in the Albertine region. This is in a bid to expand the reach of its business incubator programme and impact on small and medium enterprise (SME) growth across the country.

The Centre, which has been launched in partnership with Tullow Uganda Operations Pty Ltd, will focus on strengthening farmers’ capacity in the Districts of the Albertine region in targeting agriculture opportunities in the Oil and Gas Sector and regional markets.

Speaking during the launch ceremony in Hoima District on Tuesday, Stanbic Bank’s Head of Enterprise Development, Tony Otoa said that they had so far invested over UGX 500 million in setting up and operationalizing the Centre. He said the basic goal is to extend business incubation training countrywide.

“The Centre will help to deal with agribusiness enterprises challenges in the Albertine region. Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy. We have partnered with Tullow Uganda to amplify our SME training programme in the Albertine region,” he said.

He stressed that Tullow, on behalf of the Joint Venture Partners; Total Exploration and Production Uganda and CNOOC Uganda Limited and in collaboration with Self Help Africa, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries undertook an Agriculture Development Program pilot study in the Districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa and Nwoya.

“A number of interventions were developed to address challenges identified. We are partnering with them to intervene in the area of developing farmer capacity”, he added.

Stanbic Bank Chief Executive, Patrick Mweheire said that the bank has pledged to support the SMEs sector growth and the transforming lives of the various stakeholders in this sector.

Mweheire added that; as part of their commitment to growing SMEs in Uganda, particularly in the Agriculture value chain, they have taken the business incubator programme to the regions, starting with the agriculture centre in Hoima.

“We shall also launch other regional business incubator centres in Gulu, Mbale, and Mbarara Districts this year,” he added.

Tullow Uganda Managing Director Jimmy Mugerwa, said 75 per cent of the population’s livelihoods depend on agriculture. He pointed out that if revenues from oil and gas are invested in Uganda’s Agro-processing, the country can transform its agricultural production capacity.