how do you like your eggs – stupid or AGOA?


ON Monday morning most of the urban elite that crowd my visual space started their week off with the usual excitability around our national politics, while griping in passing about the rise in fuel prices and the strength of the United States dollar.
I picked up my copy of The New Vision with my mind on a story that I read a couple of weeks ago about a poultry incubator in Iganga that was lying idle and unused for inane reasons presented by adults of severely diminished intellect.
I gauged their intellect from the comments reported in that story – a cutout of which I have kept with me.
One farmer, for instance, said, “There is nothing we can do apart from abandoning it for now.” because the incubator, he said, could only work if it had 500 trays of eggs but “most birds that had been kept in the 23 chicken houses for purposes of supplying the hatchery, died…”
The “multi-million shilling” incubator was donated to the farmers in Iganga three years ago and has NEVER been used.
I went to google for the real cost of an Egg Incubator and found that a

Big Incubator
A Big Incubator – downloaded from some site Google sent me to

48-Egg incubator (forget that idea of 500 trays) costs between US$40-70!

And I even remembered something about poultry and incubators from my past – we used to MAKE OUR OWN INCUBATORS! They were fitted with lightbulbs and other ordinary things that were available even back in Obote II.Small Incubator
Can we get some youths to manufacture them so we address the unemployment issue, even as we convince Iganga farmers to use the bloody things?
I think so – but first, let’s run around politicking.
But then, on the day that story ran in the news and even the day after, there was not much of a hue and cry in my circles about how ridiculous this was.
20150706_102707
Jump to this Monday morning where, on Page Two of my newspaper, I found a small article stating that the United States President had signed the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) last week, renewing it for another ten (10) years!
The key changes to the Act are found here (http://agoa.info/images/documents/5659/agoa-extension-and-enhancement-act-of-2015-2.pdf), but the full text has not yet been released – not that any of you would read it if it were.
There is a long list of products – 6,000 in total – that countries in sub-Saharan Africa can send to the United States without quotas and tariff free under AGOA.
Uganda is one of 40 countries eligible for the AGOA benefits, and has been on the list from the start in October 2000. We even set up a factory and recruited people who actually made clothing (apparel) that made its way to the United States – and I saw some with my very own eyes in a store over there.
Today, though, as you drive past the Bugolobi factory where this project was established you will see samples of imported tiles positioned to indicate that they are being sold inside there somewhere.
Countries like Ghana get good mention as suppliers of apparel to the United States markets, while we don’t even make our yellow or blue campaign t-shirts here on the ground!
And the irony gets thicker when you consider that the United States dollar is now at its strongest worldwide, and we should therefore be doing our damnest to earn in THAT currency by exporting TO them.
But when did YOU last hear about AGOA, if you didn’t notice that little story on Page Two Monday? Have you seen any follow up story yet, or been invited by anyone hurriedly setting up a project to take advantage of the AGOA extension?
No?
More importantly, though, egg and chicken products form part of the AGOA list, ladies and gentlemen, so…
…should we go to Iganga and retrieve that incubator so we use it to produce eggs that can be exported tariff free to the United States in exchange for that very strong dollar?
It is important that you look at this table: http://agoa.info/profiles/uganda.html

developing uganda one rolex at a time


AWAY from the positive and negative excitement around the Kampala Mayorship, I have always contended that a person equipped with education can become wealthy doing anything – even selling tomatoes, mangoes and entula – if the people who set up roadside tables along upcountry roads selling this stuff make any sort of living.

Say a peasant woman in the village can eke out a living in her mud-and-wattle house, with her children under Universal Primary and Secondary Education, and no worries buying fuel for cars or paying DSTV; if you added just a bit of mathematics, a few history essays, and some knowledge of geography to her equation, she could turn the stall into a thriving chain of two stalls covering both sides of the road.

Photo Credit: http://www.globalhealthlearning.org

That’s theory.

In practice, she sits by the roadside waiting for our convoys to slow down and purchase her wares en route back from weddings, burials and weekend visits, us believing they’re cheaper than we find on Saturday morning market visits to Nakasero, Nakawa, Kalerwe or even supermarket vegetable stands. Our education doesn’t seem to stretch enough to make us calculate the cost of driving our vehicles 200 kilometres down the road for a day, with two people per vehicle, vis-a-vis the saving we make buying these tomatoes, entula and mangoes.

It’s as confounding as a Ushs36billion parking lot for 300 people. Sorry – this is an unfair juxtaposition of conundrums; also because the parking lot one is QED if you consider that it caters for staff of the House as well as the MPs – and maybe visitors, too, so it’s not as ridiculous as it first sounds (but is still quite ridiculous). 

While the Ushs36billion angst was growing this week, I bumped into the Rolex for three days straight.

Day One: an unnamed but highly placed government official confessed her puzzlement to me over the Rolex, having never eaten one. She knew about the general excitement around the things, the recipe involved, and their ubiquity in Kampala and beyond. She even knew that anyone’s political survival in the city is linked to their not disrupting, or being seen to disrupt any element of the Rolex business.

“I don’t think they will start riots now…” part of our discussion went, but we were wrong – even though I later realised that the running battles between the rioters and police were not in Rolex-heavy locations.

Day Two: I came across a fellow  promoting The Sound Cup, a new eatery run by musician Maurice Kirya (disclaimer: he is my cousin, Maurice is, but that’s not why this is here), and in particular it’s Rolex edition.

As far as this chap was concerned, this is the first upmarket place in Kampala with the Rolex. It is not – I’ve met them at Endiro Coffee, the Sheraton, the Hub at Nakumatt, and some other place – but Maurice reportedly adds panache (no pun, surprisingly, as the other one is spelt with a ‘k’!) to it, as to everything else. He talks it up like it is a romantic tryst you don’t want people to know about yet that feels so good you can’t help but take it public. He has a theory about how a Rolex is eaten: not with knife and fork, but with bare hands; looking it straight in the eye with an intimacy only a Ugandan dish can share with its devourer, giving up large, moist, decisive bites at a time.

Day Three: Over lunch with banker Mark Bitarabeho, he had me speechless with his tales of poultry farming and its successes and potential. I’ve heard many people tell me about this poultry business and how it has flared up in recent years, and this week I put a finger on it.

Mark told me about a mutual acquaintance who works in a telecom firm who drops off about 100 trays of eggs every morning by 7:00am to a different customer each day on her way to work.

They all pay her hard cash and she goes about her day with about Ushs700,000 in her handbag. Every day. And those customers want 300 trays a day!

Then I remembered seeing a number of Noah’s and other ordinary vehicles clogged up with eggs in the morning traffic, being driven by city-employee type people.

Image
Photo Credit: http://www.greatbigscaryworld.com

Where do those eggs go? 

Rolex.

And why did the price of eggs go up?

Again – Rolex.

But that’s not all.

Have you noticed the boiled eggs? No? People walking around with plastic tubs or baskets full of eggs and a small canister of salt? Each egg is Ushs500 – which immediately makes a tray Ushs15,000 – more than 100% profit!

And there are more people selling boiled eggs in Kampala than there are Rolex stands.

(Pause for thought here – especially if you are with the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda, Enterprise Uganda, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Kampala Capital City Authority, the Uganda Revenue Authority, the Uganda Investment Authority, the Uganda National Farmers Federation…ah! the Republic of Uganda!)

The people making money from the Rolex and the boiled egg include the Rolex seller, the likes of Maurice Kirya and Endiro, the flour and cooking oil suppliers, the manufacturers of the flat Rolex frying pans and sigiris, the charcoal sellers, the corporate people hatching eggs in their compounds, and the chicken suppliers like Biyinzika, et al.

But the senior government official above and some more like her don’t spend their money on Rolex – they eat at Fang Fang, the Serena and…I don’t know where else;  

that’s why Ushs36billion doesn’t get spent on getting more eggs rolled out onto the market (pun on Roll-eggs?) and maybe into Rwanda, Congo and Southern Sudan…and money is not put into branding the Rolex concept and sell franchises into those territories and beyond (was there a Rolex stand at the UNAA Convention?)

It all sounds so simple that it seemed to me that if a political party were set up with a manifesto that involved getting more people to eat more eggs, it would quickly mop up both massive support and funding; and using the benefit of education, spend more on hatcheries and better chicken rearing methods than on parking lots, and less time mobilising rioters and more mobilising chickens.

And it would work on developing Uganda one rolex at a time.