By Ronald Kalyango
The government of South Korea has earmarked about $1m (about sh2.5bn) annually for agricultural research and popularizing of the developed technologies amongst Ugandan farmers, a top official has said.
The research activities to be hosted at Kawanda will be conducted by a team of scientists both from South Korea and their Ugandan counterparts.
South Korea has so far funded the establishment of the Korean Project on International Agriculture (KOPIA) hugely funded by Rural Development Administration (RDA), the country’s research and extension body.
“RDA is willing to commit more resources for as long as there is dedicated cooperation between the two countries,” explained Dr. Jee Hyeong-Jin, the director of Kopia Uganda.
He addressing stakeholders in the agricultural sector at the center’s official opening presided over by state minister for agriculture; Prof. Zerubabel Nyiira.
Its establishment followed President Yoweri Museveni’s visit to Korea in May 2013 where he expressed the need to have their activities replicated in Uganda.
Later, in June 2013, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the ministry of agriculture and RDA’s representative.
Hyeong-Jin noted that the in the first year of the project’s implementation, emphasis has been put on infrastructural development.
“A reasonable amount has been invested in renovations of the administration block, setting up a mini laboratory two residential houses and fencing of land which will host the demonstration plots for different crops,” he explained.
NARO’s deputy director general in charge of technology promotion and innovation, Dr. Imelda Kashaija, said emphasis shall be put on horticultural crops.
“We intend to use the biggest chunk of the resources to solve the challenges associated with horticultural crops and preservation of the protocols of the Ankole cow semen,” Kashaija explained.
On his part, the minister applauded the South Korean Government for funding several agricultural projects like the National Farmer’s Leadership Centre at Kampiringisa in Mpigi district and fruit factory in Soroti district.
“This is a good gesture in agricultural development and I am optimistic that this center will play a major role in addressing the challenges associated with our agriculture,” said Nyiira.
South Korea’s Ambassador to Uganda; Park Jong-Dae said the farm school being constructed at Kampiringisa in Mpigi district will be completed in May and admissions for the first batch of trainees will start in July 2014.
“We have achieved 75%, most of the structures like classrooms, dormitories, multi-purpose hall and administration blocks have been roofed,” said Jong-Dae.
He said there will also be provisions for poultry and piggery pens, five green houses for vegetables, flowers, mushrooms and demonstration gardens for other crops.
“The institute will also focus on field and practice based education, extension education for agricultural workers or trainers and lifestyle education,” he explained.
Farmers expressed gratitude over the center’s establishment saying that they are eager to adopt the technologies that will be developed under the collaboration.
“We want solutions to all our agricultural undertakings. We are poor and yet our crops are always attacked by pests and diseases. It’s my prayer that such challenges will be addressed under this arrangement,” explained Peter Kabanda, a farmer at Kawanda.