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June 19, 2008

Iranian company to assemble tractors in Uganda

Ugandans can now purchase cheaper tractors following the opening of an assembly plant by President Yoweri Museveni..

The tractors, assembled at the plant, are made by the Iran Tractor Machinery Company (ITMCO). Each will cost sh42m alone and sh53m with a plough, as compared to the sh60m one would pay for the imported ones.

The tractors are to be assembled by the Ugiran (Uganda-Iran) Company, jointly owned by the National Enterprises Corporation with a share capital of 40% and ITMCO, with a share capital of 60%.

The company, which has already invested $1.5m, will assemble 64 tractors in the first phase of the project, producing 285 tractors in its second phase.

Former Mawokota South MP Kityo Mutebi said there are only 3,000 tractors in Uganda: “We need about 6,000 tractors, so we have 50%, but not all of them are working because taxation makes spare parts costly.”

However, animal industry state minister Bright Rwamirama said Ugandan farmers needed more than 6,000 tractors. “Food prices are going up because of poor agricultural production reliant on hoes. The population is growing. We need more than 6,000,” he said.

Museveni said the transformation of Africa has not been easy because people were complacent.
“Another problem is political fragmentation, which saw Africa divided into 53 countries, but we have solved this by creating a single East African market of 120 million people,” he said. “We have also negotiated for markets in the United States of America where we can supply 6,000 products, as well as in the European Union, China and Japan where we have concluded agreements to export tax-free and without quotas.”

“We have a large market in East Africa, Africa and the world, but what we need to do is to start processing the agricultural products. We need to work with Iran to process our leather, tea, coffee and beef. What we have been producing is enough but it is not properly consumed since they are not processed products. What we need to have is support from the Iranian side to process the agricultural products. The most important linkage we need is now in processing,” Museveni said.

He reiterated his support for the increase in food prices, saying it was good for Ugandan farmers. “We, as farmers, stand to benefit from rising food prices. It is only people in Kampala who are complaining because they spend their time on talk-shows (Ebimeeza) abusing Museveni instead of planning productive ventures; those CBS talk shows should be closed so people can concentrate on work.”

ITMCO managing director MH Kanani said the company was established 40 years ago: “UGIRAN is also an affiliate of ITMCO, which will supply 65 units of tractors and 130 units of implements and spare parts.”

This year’s budget provided for additional funds for agricultural inputs linked to the production of specific commodities including coffee, tea, cotton, fish and fruits.

An additional sh40b (US$25 million) was allocated to the National Agricultural Advisory Services. A further sh22b was allocated to microfinance to facilitate some of these activities.

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