MBARARA – The World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director, Mr El-Khidir Daloum, has said that given its resources, Uganda has the potential to feed 200 million people.
The current population is about 40 million people but Mr Daloum said the country’s food potential is underutilized.
“Uganda has all potential from natural resources to human resources to reduce hunger; the challenge now is how to tackle stunting. The good advantage is that we have clarity of vision of where we want to be; partnership and collective action will make a difference,” Mr Daloum said.
He urged the academia, government and private sector to work together to address challenges of hunger and stunting in the country.
According to WHO, stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience due to poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
He was addressing academia, private sector members and leaders from the refugee-hosting districts of Isingiro, Mbarara Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) Kihumuro campus on Tuesday.
Mr Daloum said the meeting was convened to create and deepen collaboration for zero hunger (by 2030) in Uganda, in line with Sustainable Development Goal Two-end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.’
Mr Daloum added that WFP’s main areas of focus 2018-2022 are tackling the root causes of malnutrition and stunting to bring rates down in line with national and global targets; unlocking potential smallholder farmers by promoting commercialization, empowering women and youth to connect to markets and reduce post-harvest losses; creating assets to help shied communities from food insecurity through developing community assets like access roads, fish ponds and tree farms; and strengthening social protection and emergency response capacity.
He said these can best be achieved through collaboration with other players. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor MUST Associate Professor Nixon Kamukama said the university already has Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Livelihoods and Farm Production and the course is intended to promote food production.
“We promote food production because that’s the way to go. We are aware there is a problem of food security in this country; look at land fragmentation, it’s difficult to use a tractor because someone has one acre or half acre of land; the issue of land that has lost fertility, at MUST we are looking at using innovative ways to get solutions,” Associate Prof. Kamukama said.
The minister of Local Government, Col. Tom Butime, hailed WFP, which is known mainly for providing relief for people in crisis, for the initiative to promote food production.
He said government has given district agriculture officers and extension workers the necessary tools to support food production in communities. “Every district agriculture officer has been given a vehicle and extension staff at Sub County have been given motorcycles to ensure they reach community.T hey should be able to help farmers to manage well their gardens and crops right from planting up to post harvesting,” Col Butime said.