The World Bank is set to offer a hundred million United States Dollars to boost agricultural research in Uganda over the next six years, TND News Uganda can exclusively disclose.
The funding, an equivalent of approximately 3.8 billion Uganda shillings will be channeled through the National Agricultural Research Organization –NARO and will be rolled out for a period of six years.
Other countries in the Central and East Africa that have been considered for the funding include Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia and Malawi, among others
Speaking to TND News Uganda’s Frank Oyugi during a farm clinic which was attended by farmers from across Lango sub-region at Ngetta Zonal Agricultural Research Institute over the weekend, Professor Joseph Obua, the chairperson governing council of NARO, said the funding is a big boost for the institute.
“We should be able to roll out this project next year (2019), it’s a big one and we are only awaiting approval from the government of Uganda,” the GC chairman said on Saturday.
According to Professor Obua, the 3.8 billion shillings will be utilized on research especially on rice, maize, diary and wheat.
He says Coffee has been left out since NARO is already receiving funds from Uganda Coffee Development Authority.
He adds that the research will ensure that NARO continues to breed crop varieties that are weather resistant, not only high yielding but also of high nutritional value for health benefits of the Uganda populace.
“It is our mandate as NARO to provide our farmers with good planting materials for high and quality yields – for food security and income generation,” Professor Obua further asserts.
NARO GC chairman talks farmers’ challenges
With specialty to Northern Uganda comprising of Acholi and Lango sub-regions, Professor Obua observed that farmers in these regions suffered great loses during the Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] insurgency as commercial farming could not be practiced.
Professor Obua also regretted that most farmers in Uganda are still relying on rain as the only source of water for their plantations which becomes risky in the event that drought hits their areas.
He said Uganda ought to borrow a leaf from countries like Israel and Egypt that receive minimal rainfall but their agricultural sector is thriving because of huge investment on irrigation farming.
Mr Obua however said Uganda as a country is on track to ensure irrigation schemes are set in the rural country side to ensure farmers move out of the rain-fed agriculture.
Torchi in Oyam district is one of the irrigation schemes commissioned by the President Museveni Yoweri Kaguta in August.
Professor Obua further encouraged farmers to embrace improved varieties of seeds as rolled out from time to time by the National Agricultural Research Organization because they are informed by research to adapt to the ever changing weather and climatic conditions and also resistant to pest and diseases.
Asked about NARO’s future prospects, Professor Obua said with seven national institutes equipped as branches and nine zonal institutes, NARO intends to increase its collaboration with extension workers to ensure they offer enough guidance to farmers.
Chairman also says NARO will initiate open days where farmers can access their zonal offices to learn hands on from their trained staff and to gain knowledge on best farming practices like conversation farming and climate smart agriculture.
The World Bank’s view on Uganda’s agriculture sector
On June 19, 2018, the World Bank launched its report on its key findings on the performance and the challenges that faces the sector.
The report titled: “Closing the potential performance divide in Ugandan agriculture”, the report highlights several structural barriers in Uganda’s agriculture sector such as declining productivity, natural resource degradation, and high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
The low level of tenure security and financial inclusion of smallholders, and comparably weak regulatory measures and poor quality-control systems have been found to limit technology adoption and to hamper agribusiness development.
While public budget allocations for agriculture have remained modest, inefficiencies in spending are high.
Holger A. Kray, Head of the World Bank’s Africa Agriculture Policy Unit and the study leader had this to say “A productive and climate-smart agriculture sector requires an effective enabling environment. Providing that environment is the role of the Government. Uganda’s agriculture sector may not be transformed overnight. But making the right adjustments now will be critical to realize the Vision 2040,”