The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has called on farmers in the country to start preparing to supply food to the oil and gas sector which will further open up its doors when the International Oil Companies (IOCs) reach the Final Investment Decision (FID) later this year.
Dr. Joseph Kobusheshe, an official at PAU, said farmers must seize the opportunity now and maximize the opportunities being presented by the oil and gas sector. Ms. Peninah Aheebwa, the Director Technical Support Services at PAU urged farmers to think broadly and start planning now. She explained that about 160,000 people will need food during development and productions phases of the oil and gas.
The two PAU officials made the remarks recently at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala during a one day local content conference targeting farmers who can and are interested in working in the oil and gas sector from across the country. The conference was organized by PAU and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to discuss and create linkages between the oil and gas sector and the agriculture sector.
When the development phase of the oil and gas sector gets into high gear, farmers will have an opportunity to supply a variety of food stuffs to camps where people working on the various projects will be residing – an estimate of about 160, 000 local and international workers.
The farmers however have been advised to be keen on standards and safety right from the farms and gardens. In the same manner, farmers must careful when transporting their farm produce to the market and at the market.
Ms. Rosette Komugisha from Total E&P said these standards should not be looked at as a prohibitive measure aimed at denying farmers a chance to work in the oil and gas sector. These standards reduce risk of food getting contaminated and safeguards the health of workers, she said.
Mr. Boaz Muzoka of Mineral Services Limited (MSL Logistics), a logistics firm working with oil companies here in Uganda noted that Uganda is lucky because every food is available especially fruits and vegetables. He was however quick to question if Ugandan farmers will be able to maintain standards for their products to be accepted.
Since natural resources are finite, Mr. Muzoka said by getting everything right, as required by the oil and gas sector, farmers will be building a sustainable capacity that can enable them to sell their farm produce to other markets outside Uganda.