Kampala — The US Mission in Uganda, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has made a major contribution towards improving food security in Uganda for the next five years through a $19 million (about Shs53.2b) agricultural initiative. This will focus on research to boost production and nutrition value of crops, with benefits spilling to other countries in eastern Africa. Mr John Mark Winfield, the deputy mission director of USAID, who announced the investment at the weekend in Namulonge, outside Kampala said in a press release from the US embassy in Kampala that investing in research is part of President Barrack Obama’s Feed the Future initiative and with the government of Uganda’s Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan including the African Union-led Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme, which aim to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty.
“The demand for agricultural products is projected to increase with the growing population of Uganda and expansion of regional markets, but production is being held back by challenging environmental conditions, pests and diseases,” a statement reads in part.
To overcome these challenges, USAID is collaborating with Uganda National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and funding research to develop varieties appropriate for small farmers.
The US organisation will also support partnerships between NARO and global consortiums such as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and American universities.
The initiative will build upon the existing strengths of USAID and NARO and accelerate scientific advances in agriculture The initiative will build upon the existing strengths of USAID and NARO and accelerate scientific advances in agriculture.
According to authorities at the embassy, USAID will further collaborate with Harvest Plus, a US-based NGO, to scale-up the production of bio-fortified and nutritionally enhanced crop varieties, such as orange-fleshed sweet potato.
To date, USAID has provided the research centre with equipment for laboratory, built a bio-safety greenhouse and four confined field facilities for testing crop varieties.
The research funding is part of the five-year $150 million USAID commitment to be invested in agriculture programmes in Uganda, under President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative.
Source: The Monitor