The Government of the Republic of Korea through Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has earmarked USD 8 million for capacity building towards the Ugandan seed value chain for key horticultural crops.
The overall objective of the project being to increase farm income through improved productivity and quality of horticultural crops, the grants will be channeled to government through the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and its affiliate institutions to work on improving seed-related research capacity, increasing production and quality of the target crops, and establishing a system of quality seeds dissemination through leading farmers. Such target crops which have been discussed with careful consideration of consumption and income generation include; Tomato, Chili, Onion and Nakati (a local vegetable).
According to the Ugandan National Bureau of statistics report of 2019, agriculture in Uganda accounts for 70% of employment rate although the majority is still stuck in subsistence farming. The same report indicates that the sector provides half of all exports and accounts for one-quarter of GDP. Although reports suggest that agriculture is considered a leading sector for future economic growth and economic inclusion in the National Development Plan, a survey by World Bank in 2018 indicates that despite having very favorable natural resources and climate conditions for production of a wide variety of crops and livestock, the aggregate output growth has been less than the growth of all inputs and factors of production for the last two decades. Lack of good quality seed was identified as one of the major causes of low agriculture productivity. Evidence suggests that access to improved seed varieties is vital in improving agricultural productivity.
Korean experts have been dispatched to Uganda from 1st March to 6th March 2021, to make the final assessment and develop implementation strategies alongside key stakeholders, including NARO, NSCS (National Seed Certification Services) and NaCRRI (National Crops Resources Research Institute). Following the confirmation of key factors of the project, KOICA expects to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Uganda by the end of June 2021, to pave way for the implementation of the project which will run for 9 (nine) years (2021 – 2029).
The KOICA Country Director Mr. Taeyoung Kim notes that this project will support sustainable seed system development on national level as well as the livelihoods of farmers.
“It is expected that once the project is completed, at least one million farmers will be directly or indirectly impacted and their farm incomes from horticultural crops will be increased through improved productivity and quality seeds. We are hopeful that the cooperation between the Korean and Ugandan government through exchange of experience, knowledge and technology in this project will further strengthen the partnership between our two countries,” said Mr Kim.
KOICA is the official development aid implementing agency of the government of the Republic of Korea. Currently in Uganda, the organization is supporting various projects including the Establishment of Sustainable Model Villages (ESMV), National Farmers’ Leadership Centre (NFLC), support towards Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), among others. KOICA envisions that these projects with support from major stakeholders will contribute to the nation’s comprehensive economic and human capital development in the long run.