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'A conducive environment will attract investors to Africa'

By Andrew Masinde

Added 7th July 2016 08:06 PM

“There is need to have quality agricultural products," says JICA president Shinichi Kitaoka.

 'A conducive environment will attract investors to Africa'

JICA president Shinichi Kitaoka addressing journalists. (Credit: Andrew Masinde)

“There is need to have quality agricultural products," says JICA president Shinichi Kitaoka.

Uganda is privileged to have suitable soils for both subsistence and commercial food production. This confirms the fact that the agriculture sector employing about 70 % of the working population is the cornerstone of Uganda's economy.

Considering that agriculture is the main source of income for rural residents and that 96% of the population below the poverty line live in rural areas, modernizing the agricultural sector and improving agricultural productivity, competitiveness, and income is extremely important in promoting economic growth not only for rural areas, but the entire country.

However this is still low because most people are still involved in low agricultural productivity, and the JICA director general of the Africa department Eguchi Hideo stresses that this makes a country lose so much revenue.

He said agricultural productivity in Africa is still very low that is the reason countries on the continent have failed to compete with other countries.

"Post-harvest losses cost farmers a lot of money yet this is where many would be generating a lot of income. Major losses occur in times when grains are threshed, winnowed and dried, as well as losses along the chain during transportation, storage and processing.

"This has to be controlled if farmers are to benefit from farming," said Eguchi.

He was addressing journalists from different African countries on at the JICA headquarters in Tokyo, Japan this week.

Poor quality agricultural products are also part of what is failing Africa to compete with the rest of the world in terms of food exports, he told reporters.

On his part, JICA president Shinichi Kitaoka said the simple issues that Africa has failed to solve are the ones that sometimes make investors to shy away from investing on the Africa.

As JICA, through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), they have tried to encourage investors to consider investing in Africa because there are abundant resources.

"There is need for Africa to create a conducive environment that can attract investors," he said.

"There is need to have quality agricultural products. This is why we decided that the sixth TICAD conference is held in Africa (Nairobi, Kenya) from August 27-28, 2016. The issues to be discussed are basically aimed at helping Africa develop,"said Shinichi.

Uganda has reaped big in farming as a result of her cooperation with Japan, and this is through the Promotion of Rice Development (PRiDe) project since November 2011 in partnership with the ministry of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries (MAAIF), and its associated agencies: National Agricultural Advisory Services and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).

As a comprehensive fiv-year project (2011-2016) targeting 40,000 farmers, PRiDe aims at increasing rice production by 20,000 tons through building capacity for rice-related researchers, institutions, extension service providers and farmers, for improved rice quality in the market by the end of this year.

The project covers three agro-ecological environments: rain-fed upland, rain-fed lowland, and irrigated lowland; and it also focuses on mechanization and rice value chain development. It is expected to contribute to increased national rice production by approximately 10%.

As a part of the Rice Promotion Program, Japan is currently undertaking a feasibility study on irrigation development. The project aims at assuring national food security, improving farmer household income, and building capacity for irrigation and natural resource management, while widening irrigation coverage.

Expected outputs are; development plans for 10 potential sites; feasibility study for prioritized sites; and finally, capacity building of stakeholders in natural resource and irrigation development, operation and management

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