Wednesday May 21 2014

Ugandan farmers a target for Africa’s Green Revolution

Women farmers are one of the groups that should

Women farmers are one of the groups that should be given more attention. FILE PHOTO 

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Uganda is one of four focus countries identified by Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), an international organisation which promotes agriculture, as having the potential to achieve a “Green Revolution” in Africa through smallholder farmers. The others being Ethiopia, Mali and Nigeria.

Together with the government, SAA is to strengthen support for the smallholder farmers to attain food security and improve household incomes. This will involve programmes to improve crop productivity, promote value-addition at post-harvest stages and in agro-processing, set up public-private partnerships which link to markets.

The smallholder farmers will be the focus of attention as the country hosts events in July this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Norman E. Borlaug, a Nobel Laureate, who was President of SAA until his death in 2009.

SAA has been working with extension services in Uganda since 1996, to increase yields and improve rural livelihoods.
“We are now reaching out to the marginalised farmers underserved by extension, such as women farmers, while promoting employment opportunities for the youth. We believe that boosting agriculture will help eradicate poverty,” said Professor Ruth Oniang’o, SAA’s chairperson. “Encouraging the youth to get into agriculture is critical for Uganda and other African countries.”

“Dr Borlaug believed in young people as the farmers of the future as well as being advocates against hunger,” she added while announcing the events planned to honour the world-reknown agriculturalist.

These events, which will run during the National Agricultural and Trade Show in Jinja, are being jointly organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Makerere University, Uganda National Farmers’ Federation and SAA. A national organising committee has been set up and will be led by Ms Victoria Sekitoleko and have representatives from the different organisations.

“The emphasis by the government of Uganda on the importance of agriculture is enormously encouraging,” Prof Oniang’o commented. “It is appropriate that this important anniversary is being celebrated in Uganda.”
Dr Borlaug, with former US President Jimmy Carter and Japanese philanthropist, Ryoichi Sasakawa, founded SAA in 1986. His appeal was: “Take it to the farmer”. And these words will be the theme of the commemorative events to celebrate his life.

There will be three competitions—one for farmers (smallholder and large-scale), an essay competition for secondary schools and a debate. These will cover the 15 districts where SAA operates. They will stress the opportunities offered by agriculture.

The winners will be transported to Jinja for the prize-giving ceremony on the last day of the show – 11 July.

School children from Jinja, the host district, will perform songs and dances in honour of Dr Borlaug. This, too, will be in the form of a competition, with prizes for the winners to be presented at the show.

The main event will be a two-day symposium to be held in Jinja, on the enduring results of the Borlaug legacy for Uganda and Africa. Participants will include government officials and representatives of various stakeholders, while those expected from outside the country are Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, which has funded SAA projects since their inception, and members of Dr Borlaug’s family.

Prior to Jinja, the delegates will participate in a one-day symposium at Makerere University organised with the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE), which recently marked 20 years of extension education in Africa.

some SAA achievements
A total of 13.4 tonnes of legumes (groundnuts, cowpeas and pigeon peas) seeds multiplied were under community seed systems on a recovery basis.
A total of 441 savings and credit organisations have been established with farmer groups.

Over 50,000 farmers engaged in various commercial enterprises.
13 districts serviced by OSCAs with 10,000 farmers organised into 14 legally registered associations and 20 service sites.
Initiated Japanese Oversees Volunteers (JOVs) scheme and internship programme for local and international students.

In tegration of crops and livestock (pigs, poultry and goats). A voucher input delivery system devised to ensure that the poorest farmers have a chance to take part in technology transfer process.
Development of rural agricultural inputs stockists networks in partnership with USAID

IDEA project and Appropriate Technology (AT)-Uganda; giving birth to Uganda National Agro-Dealers Association (UNADA).
Introduced QPM hybrid (Salongo) and NERICA rice series in partnership with WARDA, CIMMYT, JICA, and National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).