The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) launched the process of developing a new Country Programing Framework (CPF), which is expected to tie up with the National Development Plan (NDPIII), which is aimed at promoting Agro-industrialization through program approach planning and execution.
According to officials, the Framework, which will run from 2021–2025, “gives the opportunity for alignment, harmonization and harnessing complementary synergies to change the face of agriculture in this country.”
FAO has been key in promoting the agriculture sector growth especially in areas of poverty eradication, food and nutrition security, agriculture mechanisation, pests, vectors and disease control capacity building of farmers, climate change awareness and mitigation campaigns, all of which contribute significantly to the overall objective of the Ministry agenda of agriculture transformation.
Some of the projects FAO is implementing with the government include the Source of the Nile National Agricultural and trade show which brings different stakeholders and various actors along the agricultural value chains to learn and showcase new technologies for production, value addition, product development, commodity marketing among others.
According to Vincent Ssempijja, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, FAO has supported the development of the National Strategy for Youth Employment in gainful Agriculture value chains which focuses on strengthening the enabling framework for youth employment, supporting youth-oriented agriculture extension, improving youth education and learning and supporting youth entrepreneurship.
The organization continues to be instrumental in the Uganda–China South-South Cooperation Project Phase I and II which promotes the technologies in the 5 key areas of horticulture, cereals, livestock, fish and cross–cutting issues, the minister said. “
All these efforts form a common denominator towards the Agriculture sector Growth as well as agro-industrialization which is the country’s agenda for the National Development Plan III (NDP III),” he said.
The handy and timely collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and FAO has yielded a lot even when the sector is hit with stiff challenges, high risks and disasters.
“For example; FAO was handy in the fight against Avian Influenza in 2017, The Fall Army Worm in 2018, the severe and disruptive floods and droughts occurrences in various parts of the country, the most recent Desert Locusts invasion in 2019/2020 which we have jointly successfully handled with invaluable support from FAO,” Minister Ssempijja said.
Agriculture remains the mainstay of Uganda’s economy and the ministry is trying to promote investments in the sector for increased incomes and employment, food security and wealth creation.
The minister noted that Uganda is food secure and acts a food basket for our neighbouring countries South Sudan, DRC and Rwanda.
The sector employs about 80% of households as per the 2014 census.
It contributes to 26.2% to GDP and a base for the country’s industrial output. 53% of export revenues (over 10 years) have been derived from agriculture.
“All this is a result of the commitment and sustainable government investments in the sector of which FAO has offered invaluable support coupled with the efforts of a Ugandan hardworking farmer,” the minister said.
“The significance of agriculture in the economy is projected to continue even with the discovery of oil and gas.”
According to the agriculture minister, they are targeting to increase agricultural exports from the current US$1.4 billion to $4bn annually once all the initiatives being rolled out in partnership with FAO and the private sector are implemented.
“These exports will be largely absorbed in regional markets VIZ; East African Community (EAC) and; The Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA). The bulk of coffee, tea, cocoa, cotton, fish and horticulture exports will target the high-value international markets,” he said.