By Doreen Musigo
As the east African region grapples with the challenge of how to increase agricultural productivity sustainably in order to meet the food demand challenge, Uganda has been applauded for being ahead of the pack.
According to the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union (AU) Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, it is commendable that Uganda has formulated a credible Agriculture Sector Development Strategy and Investment Plan.
This plan which is already under implementation aims at advancing the agricultural transformation agenda.
It is estimated that between year 2010 and 2050, the global demand will increase by 60%. In Sub Sahara Africa alone, the demand for food is rising at an average 178% while in Uganda, the population is growing population at 3.5%.
Edward Ssekandi (r) shakes hands with Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo, former president of Benin and board member of the Sasakawa Africa Association. Looking on AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Rhoda Peace Tumusiime
Tumuusime noted that Uganda’s food productivity is increasing by 2.65%. Some of the biggest challenges facing the sector in the country include declining soil fertility and lack of policies to ensure accessibility to affordable farm inputs.
“Uganda is one of the AU member states that have signed the Country Compact for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), a framework for increasing agricultural production and productivity, improving food and nutrition security and eradicating poverty,” she said.
Tumusiime was speaking during a symposium closing recently at the Jinja Nile Resort which was being held to celebrate 100 years of Dr. Norman Borlaug who died in 2009.
Borlaug was the former president of the Sasakawa Africa Association and an eminent personality of agricultural research and development in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
“The AU recognizes the remarkable work of the Sasakawa Foundation particularly in supporting and promoting crop productivity enhancement, post harvest loss reduction and agro-processing as well as public private partnerships and market access. The association has also placed importance on small holder farmers with relevant supportive policies for value chain development,” she added.
Further Tumusiime recognized Dr. Borlaug’s achievements in the use of quality seed, fertilizer, appropriate technologies and irrigation to prevent hunger and poverty globally. “One has reason to believe what has been by some that Dr. Borlaug has saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived,” she noted.
Edward Ssekandi (l) shakes hands with Sasakawa Africa chairperson Ruth Onioang’o during the symposium held last week at Jinja Nile Resort in honor of Dr. Norman Borlaug.
The Sasakawa Association which has been in Uganda since 1996 has contributed greatly to the improvement of rural livelihoods.
Julie Borlaug the Associate Director for External Relations at the Norman Borlaug Institute for international Agriculture based in the USA said “What we do with all our projects is identify a value chain in agriculture that could ramp up quickly and that could be lucrative for the farmer. We then teach the farmer all the basics from the point of production to business management, market access and so on.”
The Vice President of Uganda, Edward Ssekandi in his keynote speech at the event, lauded Borlaug’s contribution to Uganda’s economy through the Sasakawa Association. He urged the organization’s current leadership to carry on the ideals set by the late doctor.
“The current leadership of this organization should ensure productivity is increased in maize, bean and rice production which are not only staple foods in large parts of Africa but also sources of household incomes. You should also go a step further to improve agro-dealer extension training for food stockists as well as collaborate with other stakeholders in the industry,” he said.
Ssekandi noted as per Dr. Borlaug’s dying wish phrased ‘Take it to the Farmer’, liberating the rural farmers by enabling them to improve their welfare will go a long way in empowering a large section of humanity.