Written by Maurice Kiiza
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), today signed a $5million support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) to strengthen the capacity Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in setting up policies and actions for sustainable agricultural intensification in Uganda.
The project, titled Policy Action for Sustainable Intensification of Ugandan Cropping Systems (PASIC) will boost the production of small-holder farmers to improve their food security and livelihoods and contribute to the country's overall economic development.
The four year project will be managed by IITA in partnership with MAAIF, as the lead agency guiding public agricultural development efforts in the country; the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), the leading policy think-tank in Uganda, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Tress Bucyanayandi, MAAIF Minister, welcomed the initiative. "Through sustainable intensification of cropping systems, PASIC directly contributes to increased rural incomes and household food security, the two objectives of our Development Strategy and Investment Plan (DSIP)", he said.
PACIS will carry out research in two zones - the south western Highlands for Irish potatoes and the Lake Kioga plains in Eastern Uganda for rice. In these zones, population pressure is high, farm sizes are small (less than two hectares), and the options to put new land into production are rather limited and therefore traditional farming is no longer sustainable.
At the signing event, His Excellency Mr Alphons Hennekens, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Uganda, noted that the country needs to devise sustainable ways to ensure that it is able to match its food production to the rapidly increasing population.
"The inevitable solution lies in the intensification of cropping systems by using fertilizers, improved seeds, good agronomic practices and attracting investors for buying farmers' produce," he said.
"PASIC will generate vital knowledge and evidence for decision makers to plan public investments and attract responsible private entities. Results from rigorous scientific evaluation will be critically discussed with farmers, the business people, and local and national decision makers to prioritize action and guide the development of the agriculture sector," said Piet Van Asten, IITA Country Representative in Uganda.