The Kingdom of the Netherlands has launched two agriculture support programmes valued at €22m (Shs80b) for improved seed quality and market linkages for farmers.
The two programmes set to run for the next five years, are targeting the entire value chain in the agriculture sector right from seed distribution to linking farmers to the private sector buyers of the produce.
“Uganda’s agriculture sector has a great potential to transform the country and the livelihood of Ugandans. Using our Dutch experience and success in agriculture, we believe that by end of 2020, at least 350,000 households will be positively impacted by the projects,” said HE Henk Jan Bakker, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands told reporters on the sidelines of the launch at his residence in Kololo, Kampala on Wednesday evening.
The Integrated Seed Sector Development Plus (ISSD Plus) will target access and production of high-quality seeds through research in partnership with the National Agricultural Research Organization.
On the other hand, Resilient Efficient Agribusiness Chains (REACH Uganda) will link about 40,000 farmers in Kigezi, the Lake Kyoga region and the Sebei region to the market. The target is mainly for farmers growing rice and potatoes.
“In addition to providing quality seed, the issue of climate change will also be tackled through the dissemination of climate smart varieties and other technologies that go with it. This will be greatly facilitated by the mutual partnership with NARO in the implementation of the Euro 10m ISSF Plus project as NARO is the main source of agricultural technologies in Uganda,” the ambassador added.
According to Ms Astrid Mastenbroek, the Chief of Party ISSD, Ugandan farmers are still faced with limited knowledge on the handling of seeds, which often results in poor crop yields. She also admitted that the Ugandan market is also filled with counterfeit and poor quality seed.
Under the previous five-year ISSD programme, the target was mainly on seed on production, however this time it will be combined with ensuring farmer awareness on seed quality and handling.
Mr David Slane, the Chief of Party for the Integrated Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) also noted that the target for the REACH Uganda project is the rural farmer who having trouble with market access and production of quality resilient produce.
“Our target is having a high multiplier factor on the rural farms where yields can increase by almost six times over a period of five years,” he said.
In a written speech by Mr Vincent Ssempija, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, he said that the projects are targeting areas that will make Uganda food secure.
“Agricultural production in Uganda is mainly dominated by smallholder farmers engaged in food and cash crops,horticulture, fishing, and livestock farming. The focus of the rice and potatoes the REACH Uganda project means that Uganda will be more food secure and trade in these crops will also improve,” the speech reads.
About 70 per cent of Uganda’s population is engaged in agriculture but accounts for only 22.2 per cent of the GDP because most of the people practice subsistence agriculture.