FAO’s Querido Rallies Ugandans in Diaspora to Invest in

Antonnio Querido, the Country Representative of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has rallied Ugandans in the diaspora to invest in the Agribusiness sector back home.

Uganda currently has 1.7 million international migrants (38% aged 19 or younger), working in different countries of the world and remitting over $1.2 billion.

Speaking at the launch of the Uganda Diaspora Agribusiness Network (UDAN) on Saturday, Querido said that diaspora communities play an important role in the economic and social development of countries of origin through transfer of knowledge, skills and targeted investments to the agricultural sector.

“In fact, there is a wealth of evidence illustrating how the financial resources and knowledge of diaspora communities contribute to the development of their countries of origin,” he said.

He noted, however, that diaspora engagement in agriculture and rural development is often limited due to challenges of investing in rural areas such as limited information on investment opportunities, understanding of market dynamics from a distance and remoteness of rural areas among others.

“With the right support and platforms, diaspora organizations can further support rural areas in form of capital investments and skills transfer knowhow and improved social networking. There is need to empower, acknowledge, appreciate the diaspora as an active and potential Uganda community,” Querido said.

According to Querido, FAO acts as a bridge between diaspora organizations and rural stakeholders through strengthening the enabling environment for diaspora contributions through policy dialogue and coordination across migration and agriculture stakeholders.

“FAO supports diaspora agripreneurs and networks to empower them as agents of development. This entails a wide range of interventions, such as; strengthening diaspora representation in policy dialogue, setting up diaspora networks in agribusiness and facilitating diaspora investments and skills transfer in agribusiness ladies and gentlemen,” he said.

“As FAO, we work to maximize the benefits of migration for agriculture and rural communities, while also addressing its adverse drivers by promoting employment and agro-entrepreneurship opportunities,” he said.

Speaking at the launch, Johny Muhindo, the Head of Diaspora desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) assured the diaspora community that the government will design policies aimed at protecting them.

“We want to harmonize all your documentation because now without a National ID you cannot own a freehold land here, we want to ensure that Ugandans are treated differently, we don’t want you to get difficulties while investing here,” Muhindo said.

The government, he said, is working on the diaspora policy, with an aim of “ensuring that we get closer to each other. We want to ensure that you feel free like any other Ugandan through extension of services, easy transactions.”

“I am working on the papers so that you also benefit from the Parish Development Model by ensuring that you get professional managers who will work in your farms, we shall continue holding conferences with you aimed at ensuring that we close all existing bridges,” he said.