The Belgium government has pledged more support to the Ugandan agricultural sector, a subdivision of the economy that employs about 80 percent of Ugandans.
Mr Erwin De Wandel, the Belgium deputy Head of Mission / Head of Cooperation in Uganda , said Uganda has a big potential in the said area and, as such, the European state will help in attainment of that potential.
“Although health and education are the priority sectors in our bilateral cooperation programme with the Ugandan government, the majority of the Belgian NGO’s active in Uganda, as well as the Belgian-Ugandan academic development cooperation, target Uganda agriculture,” Mr Wandel, said.
Mr Wandel was speaking at the 25th anniversary of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Uganda in Namulonge, Wakiso District early in the week.
IITA works with partners to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture.
Belgium has six NGO’s actively involved in the agricultural sector, and other five Belgian-owned companies. Belgium funds some research projects in the country including those at Makerere University.
“Final aim is not combatting but eradicating food insecurity in the world, food insecurity which is not only infamous but above all unnecessary,” Mr Wandel added.
Dr Ambrose Agona, the director general of National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), said apart from IITA offering training to some of the institute’s scientists, their collaborations have helped save money and food varieties.
“One of the hallmarks of success between IITA and Naro is the restoration of cassava production in Uganda,” Dr Agona said.
“In 1990s, cassava had been decimated by mosaic disease and Uganda was losing $60m (about Shs214bn) per year but thanks to collaboration we released new cassava varieties,” he added.
Cassava is one the widely eaten food crop in Uganda especially in west Nile, northern and eastern Uganda.
Some of the new varieties being given to farmers include: Naro Cass1 and Nase14. They were developed by National Crop Resources Research Institute in Namulonge (NaCCRI), a government research centre.